Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Friday, September 30, 2011

Automatic sketch of Los Angeles

This is my automatic sketch of Los Angeles. And this is not Los Angeles, but the concepts I remember. The old and the new, the different levels, the postmodern architecture, some basements, some bridges and tunnels across the mountains, a few trees only in the plazas, the city against the mountains and the sky behind. And nobody walking around.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Moshe Safdie´s building in Kansas will be dismantled

The building that will be dismantled in Kansas. Picture from the article

I´ve been reading today about the controversial building designed by Viñoly´s UK Art Center, it was finally opened after a litigation: the reason, rising costs, redesign of the structure on site. And this is not the only example. Starchitects sometimes seem not to care about huge construction costs. Best example, Calatrava. Now, it was the time for arch. Moshe Safdie to suffer the consequences. Or maybe the contractors are not selected with the required experience to build difficult shapes.

Moshe Safdie. Picture downloaded from the article
Moshe Safdie. From

By Kevin Collison. The Kansas City Star:
Water poured into the unfinished West Edge building’s atrium last March through an open ceiling. Mike Allen of Caymus Real Estate toured the project.(..)
More than one observer has compared the imposing curved balconies that architect Moshe Safdie designed for the grand atrium of the new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts to the iconic swirl of the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
A similarly dramatic interior was created by Safdie in Kansas City, but most of us will never see it.
That’s because the office building he designed for Kansas City advertising executive Bob Bernstein at the West Edge near the Country Club Plaza is slated to be dismantled.
In a recent interview, Safdie said he was “heartbroken” that building wouldn’t be completed.
“It’s really sad,” he said. “We spent five to six years of our lives laboring over every detail. … A lot of love and care went into this.
“I feel particularly sad for the Bernstein family. It was a noble undertaking. They wanted a headquarters but obviously wanted to do something for the entire city.”
For several years now the exterior of the forlorn, unfinished structure at 48th Street and Belleview Avenue has been part of thousands of people’s daily commutes on Southwest Trafficway.
What has not been visible is its six-level interior atrium. Safdie’s “tornado” design slightly shifted the curves of each interior office balcony to create the illusion of motion, energizing the soaring space.
Over the next few months, if all goes as planned, that atrium — and the rest of the building — will be dismantled and replaced by a more conventional office building designed by 360 Architecture for the Polsinelli Shughart law firm.
Seven years ago, Bernstein searched for an architect to design what was to be the headquarters of the Bernstein-Rein advertising agency. Top designers, including Zaha Hadid and I.M. Pei, were considered before Bernstein chose Safdie and his “hillside village” concept.
In December 2004, a beaming Bernstein joined Safdie in unveiling the model. A year later, construction started. But by early 2007, Bernstein and the builder, J.E. Dunn Construction Co., were embroiled in a dispute over rising costs.
“I tried to be an intermediary,” Safdie said. “I called them individually and tried to have a meeting of the three of us, but it never worked.”

Keep on reading:

Viñoly´s Art Center. From

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Botticelli and Leonardo: different ways of seeing landscapes

St. John on Patmos. 1490. By Sandro Botticelli. Google images
Sandro Botticelli. Agony in the garden. 1500. Google images

Botticelli didn´t paint landscapes but if so, they were as a background where the main frame was acquired by the addition of arches, architecture in general. Even rocks seem to be built by humans. From Au-dela de la peinture, 1936; first published in Cahiers d´Art, Special Issue, 1937, the words by Max Ernst:

Sandro Botticelli. Virgin and the Child enthroned. Google images.
Landscape detail. Sandro Botticelli.

¨Botticelli did not like landscape painting, regarding it as a ¨limited and mediocre kind of investigation.¨He said contemptuously that ¨by throwing a sponge soaked with different colours at a wall one can make a spot in which a beautiful landscape can be seen.¨ This earned him a severe admonition from his colleague Leonardo da Vinci:
¨He (Botticelli) is right: one is bound to see bizarre inventions in such a smudge; I mean that he who will gaze attentively at that spot will see in it human heads, various animals, a battle, rocks, the sea, clouds, thickets, and still more: it is like the tinkling of a bell which makes one hear what one imagines. Although that stain may suggest ideas, it will not teach you to complete any art, and the above mentioned painter (Botticelli) paints very bad landscapes.¨
Reproduced in Surrealism. By Patrick Waldberg.

Arno´s landscape. By Leonardo da Vinci. Google images
A storm over a hilly landscape. Leonardo da Vinci. Google images
Landscape near Pisa. Leonardo da Vinci. Google images

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Guatemalan schools built with bottles

Picture by Hut It Forward

The cost of building new classrooms and schools shouldn't prohibit students in the developing world from accessing a quality education, but new construction, even using inexpensive materials like cinder block, can run up a five-digit bill in construction costs. Now, Hug It Forward, a nonprofit in Guatemala, has figured out how to build new schools on a shoestring budget by turning the plastic bottles that litter the countryside's villages into raw construction materials.
A plastic school might sound like it's better suited for Barbies than for people, but the technology—developed by the Guatemalan nonprofit Pura Vida—is actually quite clever and allows for schools to be built for less than $10,000. The plastic bottles are stuffed with trash, tucked between supportive chicken wire, and coated in layers of concrete to form walls between the framing. The bottles make up the insulation, while more structurally sound materials like wood posts are used for the framing.
Keep on reading the article by Zak Stone:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Reconstruction plan for Haiti

¨Over the last 18 months, Trans_City architecture and urbanism, has developed a comprehensive plan for the reconstruction of Jacmel, Haiti based upon the concept of satellite cities located at the edge of the existing, earthquake-ravaged city center.(A concept developed in accordance with the universal design principals of the Housing Reconstruction Framework of the Haitian Government)
The concept includes an urban masterplan, and a proposal for prefabricated houses, in which the building shell is industrially manufactured in Austria, and finished by local hand workers. In line with the content of the project, the architecture does not attempt to be spectacular. Rather, it is the holistic integration of the many levels of an urban system that makes this project interesting. More images and project description after the break.
The urbanism proposes an ecologically sustainable planning for a topographically challenging tropical site. We have divided the site into three basic zones, depending upon their topographic qualities.
1) Steep hillsides, which are not buildable, are to be reforested.
2) Valley bottoms, which are also not buildable due to flash-flood dangers, will be terraced and converted to middle intensity agriculture for local consumption.
3) Ridges and plateaus are inhabitable for the built environment.¨

From the article by Alison Furuto. Pictures courtesy of  Trans_City architecture and urbanism
Keep on reading:

Sunday, September 25, 2011

City in the night. Ciudad en la noche

This digital painting is tricky and it´s influenced by my research on urban morphology. Seen from a satellite, the cities show areas of different colors with more density, usually called ¨urban sprawl¨ or in Spanish, defined as ¨manchas de aceite¨ (oil stains). In this case, the clusters appear to be in a desert land with spots of water, like some areas in Peru, for example. But the light color in the edge of the sea is tempting us to look at the picture as a ¨vertical¨ landscape, being the sea the blue, the stains with lighting an urban horizon, and the rest, a dark-brownish sky. We can read it both ways.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Megaciudades: el desafío de convertir desechos en recursos

Un niño bañándose en aguas altamente contaminadas por desechos, Manila
Un barrio arriba de aguas con desechos, Manila

Reproducido del diario La Nación, sección Ciencia y Salud. Una nota con un video imperdibles:

Una motocicleta tras otra. El ruido se hace insoportable. En "hora pico" el aire es tan denso que a uno llega dolerle la garganta. Es la megaciudad de Hanoi (Vietnam), en un día normal de la semana. Una escena familiar en muchas otras ciudades de los llamados "países emergentes", donde crecen, incontroladas, las megaciudades de este mundo: cada día unas 160.000 personas más.
La infraestructura de estas ciudades, por lo general, no alcanza a crecer en armonía con la población -no tan rápidamente-. Cada vez se hace más difícil proveer a todos de agua potable, recolectar y depurar las aguas residuales, la basura. La cantidad de habitantes de Hanoi, la capital de Vietnam, se ha elevado a casi siete millones en los últimos años. Pero en toda la ciudad no hay ni una planta de tratamiento de aguas residuales. El líquido de sus duchas e inodoros termina -luego de un largo recorrido- en los ríos de la región y, en algún momento, seguramente en el manto freático, sin previo procesamiento.
La Universidad Técnica de Darmstadt (Alemania) ha desarrollado un concepto que debe solucionar este problema: un sistema de aguas residuales, que puede crecer conjuntamente con una megaciudad como Hanoi, que recicla las aguas negras y que, además, produce energía eléctrica a partir de excrementos. "Semicentral" llaman los científicos a su concepto. En un par de años deben surgir en la capital de Vietnam instalaciones del tamaño de un gran parqueo de autos en las que se puede lograr mucho más que el simple almacenamiento de aguas sucias.
Las negras aguas cloacales serán procesadas y transformadas en clara agua potable que retornará a las casas de la ciudad. Los lodos residuales y la basura orgánica se convertirán en corriente eléctrica en una estación de biogás. Lo que no sea aprovechable en ninguno de estos procesos acabará como abono en los campos de la región.


"Las aguas residuales no son simplemente basura para nosotros", explica el profesor Peter Cornel , que dirige el proyecto en Hanoi, "son un recurso". Sobre todo las megaciudades no pueden darse el lujo, bajo ningún concepto, de usar el agua sólo una vez, insiste Cornel. Es difícil que el manto freático a su alrededor resista tal cosa.
Lo más interesante del "Proyecto Semicentral" no es sólo el reciclaje del agua. Sus sistemas, además, son capaces de crecer con la ciudad y sus habitantes: si Hanoi vuelve a ganar 100.000 hanoienses, se agrega sencillamente una nueva estación en el nuevo barrio. "Cuando las ciudades crecen de esta forma descontrolada, hay que repensar constantemente cómo solucionar los problemas de la gente con sistemas bien distintos de los que tenemos en Europa", dice Cornel.

Las fotos y el video fueron bajados del mismo artículo.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The ¨lilypad¨ artificial floating island for the State of Kiribati

The Lilypad floating city, a concept by the Belgian arch. Vincent Callebaut. Photograph:

From John Vidal´s article Artificial island could be solution for rising Pacific sea levels:

Sea levels are rising so fast that the tiny Pacific state of Kiribati is seriously considering moving its 100,000 people on to artificial islands. In a speech to the 16-nation Pacific Islands Forum this week, President Anote Tong said radical action may be needed and that he had been looking at a $2bn plan that involved "structures resembling oil rigs":
"The last time I saw the models, I was like 'wow it's like science fiction, almost like something in space. So modern, I don't know if our people could live on it. But what would you do for your grandchildren? If you're faced with the option of being submerged, with your family, would you jump on an oil rig like that? And [I] think the answer is 'yes'. We are running out of options, so we are considering all of them."
Kiribati is not alone. Tuvalu, Tonga, the Maldives, the Cook and the Solomon Islands are all losing the battle against the rising seas and are finding it tough to pay for sea defences. Kiribati faces an immediate bill of over $900m just to protect its infrastructure.
But history shows there is no technological reason why the nation could not stay in the middle of the Pacific even if sea levels rose several feet.
The Uros people of Peru live on around 40 floating villages made of grasses in the middle of Lake Titicaca. Equally, the city of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec predecessor of Mexico City that was home to 250,000 people when the Spaniards arrived, stood on a small natural island in Lake Texcoco that was surrounded by hundreds of artificial islands.(...)
But Tong's imagination has been stirred by a more futuristic vision. It's possible he's seen the "Lilypad" floating city concept by the Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut. This "ecopolis" would not only be able to produce its own energy through solar, wind, tidal and biomass but would also process CO2 in the atmosphere and absorb it into its titanium dioxide skin.
Bangkok architects S+PBA have come up with the idea of a floating "wetropolis" to replace eventually the metropolis of Bangkok. They say that Bangkok is founded on marshes and with sea levels rising several centimetres a year and the population growing fast, it's cheaper and more ecologically sound to embrace the rising seas than fight them.

Kiribati could emulate Spiral Island in Mexico. This was constructed by British artist Richard "Rishi" Sowa on a base of 250,000 plastic bottles. The island was destroyed by Hurricane Emily in 2005 but is being rebuilt. With millions of tonnes of rubbish already floating in the Pacific, and plans to collect it, Kiribati could solve two problems in one go.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Nagasaki along the years: An urban fractal analysis

Surface plot before the bomb
Surface plot after the bomb

This is my last publication in the Vol 1, No 4 (2011): Journal of Mathematical Modelling and Application. Here the abstract of  Nagasaki along the years: An urban fractal analysis:
It is very difficult to define what ruins are, by definition, irreparable remnants of human construction by an act or destructive process. We can not talk about them as objects, even though we know that one day buildings reach their end, the question is on how to reach this final. Fragment causes mental associations with the person who perceives, that happens to be a mystery, since no one knows the facts that have been associated with the final ruins. However, the mental reconstruction is not straightforward, because the ruins interact with nature, are absorbed by it, change over time. This is our aim to show this dynamic situation in which man intervenes in the reconstruction, by a mathematical analysis of the city of Nagasaki based on fractal geometry, and evaluate if there is any related urban morphological pattern before and after the bomb. The method applied is Box Counting.

Keywords: City reconstruction; Fractal geometry; Box counting method
Read the full article on line:
ISSN: 2178-2423

Monday, September 19, 2011

Space organization and organization of meaning

An altarcito enclosed inside a parking structure. Personal archives.

¨Space organization (....) is a more fundamental property of the environment than is shape, the materials that give it physical expression and other characteristics, which can more usefully be seen as an aspect of the organization of meaning. The organization of meaning can then be separated from the organization of space, both conceptually and in fact, as already notes.
While space organization itself expresses meaning and has communicative properties, meaning is often expressed through signs, materials, colors, forms, sizes, furnishings, landscaping, maintenance, and the like (...) and by people themselves. Thus spatial meanings can be indicated by walls or other sharp breaks, or by gradients or transitions. They can be indicate by sanctity (the presence of religious symbols), by planting, by various objects or furnishings -of buildings or urban spaces, by treatment of floor or ground surfaces or level changes, by the presence of particular people, and so on -that is by fixed, semifixed and non fixed feature elements.¨

La Ultima Cena, on the water heater enclosure. See more religious elements on the screen door. Personal archives.

Amos Rapoport. The Meaning of the Built Environment. P. 181, chapter Environment, Meaning and Communication. California, 1982

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Parklets in Vancouver

Some months ago, an Argentine creative who draws caricatures, won a prize for designing a mobile park that would be installed in some streets of Buenos Aires. Due to the change of its location, the jury considered the idea to be ¨original and innovative¨, and they gave him money for his project.
I understand the jury was not aware of the current parklets, first in San Francisco, then in New York City, now in Vancouver. It´s not a brand new idea.
From the article Vancouver gets parklets:

San Francisco may have started something with its innovative Pavement to Parks or “parklet¨ program, which turns transportation infrastructure into public spaces. New York City is also a leader, given its recent decision to redesign sections of Broadway as permanent pedestrian malls. Now, Vancouver has gotten on board with its own Viva Vancouver program that features a set of eight streets that have become new mini-parks. Vancouver says these new spaces are “people places” designed to give residents ”extra space to walk, bike, dance, skate, sit, hang out with friends and meet your neighbours.”
One brand new parklet, Parallel Park, which cost just $18,000, features a new deck-like structure in place of two parking spots and includes built-in seats and wood-cubed tables. Designed by Travis Martin.
Read the article in full:
Pictures from the link above

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A free plug-in for ArcGIS mapping program developed at MIT

Urban Network Analysis, is an open-source software released by MIT. Taking a cue from social networks and mathematical network analysis methods, the City Form Research Group's program calculates how a cities' spatial layout affects the way people will live in it.
It measures traits such as "reach, gravity, betweenness, closeness, and straightness," which, in laymen terms, express features such as the number of services, buildings, and resources within a certain walking distance, or the volume of traffic along sidewalks and streets. Designers can also assign characteristics to individual buildings, as well as track urban growth and change with analytic support for policy makers.
What this means is that city planners can look at their cities and see, for instance, that some neighborhoods are closer to jobs than others (the map at the top is the "reach" map for jobs in Cambridge, MA. Red means closer to jobs). Knowing this, planners might want to build transportation from green areas to red areas. It can also predict things like street traffic: Good to know if you want to create a commercial zone where you will need walk-in customers.
Until now, claims MIT, no free tools were available for city planners to tackle the tough computational challenges of characterizing the dense tangle of streets, buildings, and transport in modern cities. MIT hopes the UNA toolbox, an open-source plug-in for the ArcGIS mapping program, will enable urban designers, architects, planners, and geographers around the world to better understand how the spatial patterns of cities will affect the way people live and move around their urban environments.
The UNA toolbox can be downloaded here
MIT's Free Urban Planning Software Will Help Build The Cities Of The Future. By MICHAEL J. COREN

Friday, September 16, 2011

The color and the city

Ancient Beijing. Ref. below
Ancient Beijing. Ref. below

Black and white thus evoke positive and negative affective associations and meanings. These are more polarized in the West, where black has extremely negative meaning than, for example, in Japan, where black and white tend to harmonize more and are seen more in terms of a complementary balance of opposites, although even in Japan white is still preferred. White is rated positively by Hong Kong Chinese, Asian Indians, Danes, English, Germans and white Americans, whereas black is uniformly negative. These two colors seem to involve universal meanings (...) modified by culture (...)
It is quite clear, though, that colors generally do have a meaning both in themselves, by contrast with noncolors, and in terms of increasing the redundancy of other cues. For example in ancient Peking most of the city was low and grey, the sacred and hierarchically important section was centrally located, larger in scale, more elaborate and higher, and the use of colors were restricted to that section.

San Salvador de Bahía de Todos los Santos, Brasil. From
Corner in La Boca, Buenos Aires. Personal archive. Picture by Myriam B. Mahiques

Amos Rapoport. The Meanings of the Built Environment. A Nonverbal Communication Approach. P.113. California, 1982
Pictures of ancient Beijing from

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Las Aerotrópolis

Atlanta. Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. De
Concepto esquemático de Aerotrópolis. De la página

En el principio fueron las ciudades. Y luego, los aeropuertos. De modo que el siglo XX configuró el desarrollo urbano con ciudades en el centro y aeropuertos en la periferia.
Pero según John D. Kasarda, académico de la Universidad de Carolina del Norte, el modelo urbano del siglo XXI será la aerotrópolis: un aeropuerto en el centro, y una ciudad construida en torno a él.
Zuidas en Amsterdam, Las Colinas en Texas o Songdo en Corea del Sur son distritos que hoy crecen al compás de esta música: un aeropuerto en el corazón, y arterias que comunican con distintas áreas urbanas a menos de 30 km a la redonda: de negocios, convenciones y entretenimiento, de industrias sensibles a la logística, de oficinas globales. Y más allá, las áreas residenciales. El modelo, además, barrena la ola de la sustentabilidad.
El autor presenta a las aerotrópolis como la próxima frontera de la globalización, e identifica el centro vital de nuestro futuro desarrollo urbano en el aeropuerto, ese no-lugar en donde, según Marc Augé, olvidamos y perdemos nuestra identidad.

Un 3D render de una Aerotrópolis. De la página

Nota de Carlos Guyot para La Nación, sección Opinión.
Definición de Aerotrópolis en Wikipedia

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Richard Florida and his theory of the ¨creative class¨

Houses in Hamburg´s Hafenstrasse. The brightly painted buildings now belong to a Cooperative. Picture DPA.
Hamburg is investing billions in ambitious urban planning. This is the project for the Elbe Philharmonic concert hall, by archs. Herzog and the Meuron, which is over the budget. Picture DPA. From

From the article by Philipp Oehmke ¨Who has the right to shape the city?¨:

The three pages, printed from the Internet, are lying on Richard Florida's desk in his Toronto office. He begins skimming the document, but by the first sentence he has already had enough. It is, once again, an attack on his theories.
The sentence in question reads: "A specter is haunting Europe, ever since US economist Richard Florida came to the conclusion that only those cities prosper in which the 'creative class' feels comfortable." The "creative class" is a term coined by Florida. He puts away the pages and smiles weakly.
The sentence he just read comes from halfway around the world, from the northern German city of Hamburg, and it marks the beginning of a manifesto that Hamburg artists, musicians and social activists published in October 2009. In recent weeks, this manifesto has attracted a great deal of attention in Hamburg and throughout Germany. It is directed against an urban development policy that is based on a theory that Florida has developed over the past few years.
In his theory, Florida argues that cities must reinvent themselves. In contrast to the 1990s, they should no longer attempt to attract companies, but people. More specifically, the right people -- people who invent things, who promote change and who shape a city's image. He has classified these people as the "creative class." It's a theory that has had unintentional consequences -- including bitter conflicts in places like Hamburg. (...)
In Europe, hardly any other city has relied on Florida as heavily as the traditional trading city of Hamburg. A few years ago, Jörg Dräger, at the time Hamburg's science minister, showed up one day at the city-state's administration, the Hamburg Senate, with Florida's books under his arm. It was shortly before the summer recess, and Dräger distributed the books to his fellow Senate members. He asked them to read the books over the summer, saying that they offered a possible approach for the city's future.
Soon afterwards, the city of Hamburg hired the management consulting firm Roland Berger to examine how Florida's theory could be applied to Hamburg. "We didn't simply want to follow him blindly, but his ideas were the basis for the subsequent development of our strategy for the city," says Dräger today.
The result was called "Hamburg, City of Talent," and Florida, in his role as guru, even came to the city in person and gave presentations there.

Hafen City development (Harbor City). Picture DPA, 2008
The new Water District investment designed for 12,000 people
Clashes between the police and leftist protesters in 2009. Picture DPA

Keep on reading about the fight against gentrification:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The first "National Day of the Pedestrian" in Bolivia

Pedestrians in Bolivia´s streets. Picture from

Empty of cars, the streets were turned into playgrounds for street artists, performers and exercise instructors.
Cars and buses were taken off the streets of Bolivia as the country held its first "National Day of the Pedestrian".
All motorised vehicles, including public transport, were banned in cities across the country on Sunday.
Bolivia's government says it wants to raise awareness about the environment.
It comes at a time when President Evo Morales' government is facing criticism over plans to build a highway through the Amazon rainforest.
The recent protests against the highway have been an embarrassment for Mr Morales, who is a prominent advocate of indigenous rights and the protection of "Mother Earth".
Two million cars were taken off the streets on Sunday in nine cities, according to officials cited by Reuters news agency.
In Bolivia's main city, La Paz, the BBC's Mattia Cabitza was engulfed by a sea of young people taking part in a marathon, and the usually congested streets were instead occupied by street artists and other performers.

Monday, September 12, 2011

From ¨Reconsidering the city since 9/11¨

An artistic representation of the towers. Google images

We all remember that day: How we first heard, whom we were with, how we felt as we watched an iconic American cityscape transformed into a burning, toxic wreckage, knowing that thousands were surely dead, many never to be found. We can all too easily recall how our disbelief quickly turned to horror, sadness and then fear – a fear that the world was now a fundamentally different place, and what that would mean for ourselves and our children.
In many ways our fears were borne out. The world is a very different place than it was on the morning of September 11th, 2001, wrought as it has been by a series of wars and the apparent growth in irrational fears of immigrants and associated political extremism. And our lives are certainly more scrutinized, particularly in urban areas where sophisticated cameras and sensing technology can follow our moves and transactions with unnerving accuracy. In additoin, with the costs of the "war on terror" now estimated to exceed $5 trillion, we must reflect on the "opportunity costs" that this figure represents: investments that could have been made into America's infrastructure, renewable energy and other urban amenities that instead went into the interminable and controversial wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Indeed, the U.S. Conference of Mayors issued a statement at their June meeting called on President Obama to bring these wars to an early end and redirect dollars to urban needs and to building a new, sustainable economy. (...)From the perspective of 2011, however, it is fascinating to see how the urban fears of 2001 have, by and large, not been realized. Increasingly tall skycrapers have been built – including the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which exceeds 160 storeys, while an even taller structure, the 1 kilometre tall Kingdom Tower, is being planned for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In his recent book, The Triumph of the City, author Edward Glaeser trumpeted the powerful role of the skyscraper in contributing to urban sustainability and vitality. Far from dissipating their functions to the suburbs, cities have continued to attract residents: indeed, in 2009 Planetizen cited the “Return to the City” as one of the top planning trends of the previous year, as young professionals are seeking to work and live near the centre to be a part of the “creative economy” and as a means to avoid high travel costs. And of course, the “Ground Zero” site itself continues to be rebuilt, with One World Trade Center – which will be the tallest building in the United States – slated for completion in 2013.

Read this article by Michael Dudley in full:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Two pictures to remember 9/11

Pictures by Eric O´Connell, courtesy HBO. From

The city as ¨simulacrum¨

Hollywood Blvd., many years ago. From

¨in the German version of his Hollywood book, Shadows in Paradise, Erich Maria Remarque perfectly anticipated Eco and Baudrillard´s idea of the city as ¨simulacrum¨:
Real and false were fused here so perfectly that they became a new substance, just as copper and zinc become brass that looks like gold. It meant nothing that Hollywood was filled with great musicians, poets and philosophers. It was also filled with spiritualists, religious nuts and swindlers. It devoured everyone, and whoever was unable to save himself in time, would lose his identity, whether he thought so himself or not¨. 

Quoted by Mike Davis in City of Quartz, page 50, New York, 1992.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Las villas miseria en Buenos Aires siguen creciendo sin control

Científicos de Ciencias Exactas trabajando en la Villa 31. Foto CEPRO/EXACTAS

Leía ayer en el diario La Nación que el 92% de las casas de la Villa 31 en Buenos Aires, han tenido ratas, enormes. Lo que ha afectado a los niños con parasitosis. Interesante es el comentario de un lector que dice que si las ambulancias y la policía no entran a las villas, menos los servicios de sanidad; aunque los doctores del Centro de Salud de la comunidad, están haciendo lo posible por ayudar.
El tema de las ratas me recuerda a la peste de Los Angeles y la de Buenos Aires, una endilgada a los inmigrantes mexicanos, la otra a los italianos; esta vez, se culpa a la gente, con lo cual el tema pasa a ser de sanitario a social.
Sin embargo, hoy leía otra nota en la sección Editorial, que me hace pensar, que la población de ratas aumenta porque las villas también aumentan en dimensión, y ya dejando de lado los orígenes del problema: construcción, sanidad, basura. Otro lector, para la nota que reproduzco a continuación, comenta que vive en Maquinista Savio, un barrio de quintas de la localidad de Escobar, frente a un terraplén de vías ferroviarias, ramal Capilla del Señor; dice que hace un año ya se ha instalado un asentamiento al otro lado del mismo, sin control alguno y los ocupantes tiran basura por dicho terraplén, generando cascadas de inmundicia que por supuesto afecta a los vecinos que tienen sus casa propias y pagan impuestos.
¿Es posible que no se tomen medidas? Cabe recordar que no todos los habitantes de estas villas son argentinos sino inmigrantes de países limítrofes, y bien conocido es el sistema de ¨camas calientes¨, donde se alquilan habitaciones aunque sea por noche: 

Un negocio en la Villa. Foto Marcelo Gómez
Instalando trampas de ratas. Foto CEPRO/EXACTAS

¨Los datos definitivos del censo 2010 (que abarcan el período 2001-2010) han permitido no sólo determinar que la población de la Argentina creció un 10,7 por ciento desde 2001, sino también aportar información mucho menos auspiciosa, como que la población en las villas porteñas creció más del 50 por ciento.
Es decir que ninguna de las medidas adoptadas desde 2001 -como el plan de urbanización de algunas de ellas, que llevó adelante el gobierno de la ciudad- ha servido para poner fin al avance de los asentamientos precarios, lo cual es un claro síntoma de que, a pesar de la declamada bonanza económica, la pobreza y la indigencia no se reducen, como ya lo vienen demostrando sucesivos estudios encarados por organizaciones privadas.
Actualmente viven en villas o asentamientos en la ciudad 163.587 personas (en 2001 vivían 53.000); la villa que más creció fue la de Rodrigo Bueno, de Costanera Sur, que quintuplicó su población, mientras que la más numerosa es la 21-24, de Barracas, con casi 30.000 ocupantes. Si se piensa que estos datos son los registrados en octubre de 2010, es probable que hayan sufrido incluso un ligero aumento, con todas las consecuencias ambientales, sanitarias y de infraestructura que se pueden extraer de este hecho. Por ejemplo, ayer, este diario informaba que en la villa 31, de Retiro, un relevamiento hecho por estudiantes de la Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales de la UBA reveló que el 92% de sus habitantes tuvo roedores en su casa.
Efectivamente, en contraste con el hecho de que casi una cuarta parte de 1.425.840 viviendas porteñas aparecen como deshabitadas (por distintas razones), la presencia en los barrios necesitados alcanza un grado tal de crecimiento poblacional que algunos especialistas hablan ya de una "conurbanización porteña", porque muchos de esos asentamientos son linderos con los partidos del Gran Buenos Aires.
También es preocupante, de acuerdo con estos datos, el hacinamiento en el que viven sus habitantes: en promedio, hay 4,1 personas por hogar, pero en algunos llega a 7,3 por vivienda. A ello hay que agregar, por supuesto, las dificultades para acceder al agua potable y a la red cloacal pública. Según el relevamiento de la Dirección General de Estadísticas y Censos (Dgeyc) porteña, las comunas 4 (Boca, Barracas, Parque Patricios y Nueva Pompeya) y 8 (Lugano, Villa Soldati y Villa Riachuelo) son las que tienen los porcentajes más altos de hogares que no disponen de inodoros con descarga a la red cloacal pública.
Podríamos seguir mencionando datos, todos igualmente preocupantes con respecto a esta lacerante realidad que no deja de conmocionarnos. Porque no se trata sólo de anotar cifras, sino de entender que cada una de ellas implica la falta de calidad de vida de muchos ciudadanos argentinos -y también bastantes extranjeros- que merecen recibir otras oportunidades por la dedicación al trabajo, honradez y ganas de tener una vida diferente de la mayoría de ellos. Pero es cierto, también, que con esta realidad convive otra, la de las minorías delictivas, dedicadas sobre todo a lucrar con el narcotráfico y la explotación de los que consumen.
Como hemos insistido al comienzo, el crecimiento poblacional de las villas y asentamientos precarios es un síntoma agudo de pobreza e indigencia, cuyas raíces las autoridades nacionales, provinciales y municipales no han logrado erradicar, ni han enfrentado con soluciones realistas.
También, de la cada vez más pavorosa falta de vivienda y la carencia de programas estatales que incluyan las necesidades habitacionales de los que, por falta de trabajo en sus lugares de origen, no tienen más remedio que desarraigarse y buscar por sí mismos una salida para ellos y sus familias en la gran ciudad.
Esta realidad contrasta una vez más con las distorsionadas cifras que proporciona el Indec, y que han llevado a la Presidenta a anticiparse a anunciar, el miércoles pasado, que la pobreza ha bajado al 8,3 por ciento de la población en el primer semestre del año, y que la indigencia se ubicó en apenas el 2,4%. Una mentira, a todas luces.

Basura en Maquinista Savio. Foto bajada de

Lea sobre la población enorme de ratas en la Villa 31
Lea la carta del abogado Juan Leiva denunciando el problema de la basura en Escobar
Lea más sobre el asentamiento ilegal de Maquinista Savio


Related Posts with Thumbnails