Case Study Montevideo 3

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Location Montevideo
Country Uruguay
Office IMM_intendencia Municipal de Montevideo-departamento de planificación/coordinator: Arq. Ulises Torrado
Client IMM_Intendencia de Montevideo
Completion not completed/in process
MVD BAY1 biosgroup03.jpg
<googlemap version="0.9" lat="-34.86" lon="-56.20" type="satellite" zoom="11" width="300" height="250">


Core Question 1: In how far does this project reveal your concept of future landscapes?

This project, with all it´s faults , reveals our concept of future landscape in the meaning that it attempts to articulate diverse interests, sometimes conflicting (economic interests and socio-cultural) and different actors (public and private) in order to achieve the common good: that is negotiate for (re)build a public place and an emblematic landscape: Montevideo´s bay, part of our collective heritage, today degraded and submitted to diverse pressures. What is valued as interesting of this project is not it´s formalization or design (which is preliminary and very general), but what underlies, which is it´s intention of solving contradictions, the channelling of the multiple and opposite interests in a balanced way and also the challenges that faces: the diversity of scales that are at stake, the pollution that should be reverted and the lack of biodiversity. The landscape of future, in an increasing complexity context, should be constructed on the base of a negotiation with nature (human and not human nature) and from a deep knowledge of our environment with the aim to reach a balanced and sustainable development. That is, landscape should be conceived, even in the smallest actions, as the legacy of our time for the future generations.

Landscape and/or urban context

Biogeography, cultural features, overall character, history and dynamics

The Montevideo´s bay, the hill and the peninsula that enclose it, are geographical particularities that are closely bound to the origin and development of the city. Montevideo was founded in 1720 for strategic and military reasons, in the context of territorial disputes between the Portuguese and Spanish Empire. The bay and the peninsula offered perfect natural conditions to establish a port and a defensive device in the entry of the Rio de la Plata river. Montevideo owes its name to the cartographic record of the hill that is next the bay. In these records, this hill was appearing as MONTE VI D/E-O (i.e. the sixth Mount -or hill-, in East – West direction). This hill is right in front of the enclave of the considered project. The port has been from its foundation and continues still being, a key factor in the development of the city. There, historically, have arrived and have departed, merchant ships, military ships, fishing boats, ships with immigrants, with people brought as slaves from Africa during the XVIII century and with travellers. The port of Montevideo is nowadays in a process of expansion. The city, initially fortified, has developed from the peninsula eastward and North on the bay. This happened in successive extensions upon a softly wavy topography, respecting the old colonial roads and by using a reticle as organization device. The reticle (grid), of Greek / Roman inspiration, was widely used by the Spanish empire in the foundation of American cities. The bay has been affected in his edges by the port and industrial activity. There exist nowadays many facilities of significative size that have been abandoned and are obsolet. It still remains on its edge an oil refinery, that belongs and supplies fuels to the ANCAP company. Several state companies (ANCAP, ANTEL, UTE, ANP) have infrastructure or offices there. Two streams (Miguelete and Pantanoso) end in the bay. These streams that cross a large part of the city, have been a pollution source with domestic and industrial residues during the second half of the XX century. The bay presents nowadays significant levels of pollution, that are expected to be reverted in the short term, by the completion of the municipal sanitation plan IV.

Nevertheless this, some species adapted to environmental stress, still persist. This includes exotic resistant species, that were brought with the ballast´s water of foreign ships anchored in the port. The Capurro's zone, in the North-East sector of the bay, near the stream Miguelete, was the place in colony times (XVIII th century) a quarantine place for the people that were brought as slaves from Africa. Later (in XIX century) it was a place of water extraction and a sand source for the ballast of oversea ships. At the beginning of the XXth century (1910) the Capurro park was built as a recreative space with direct access to the bay. This constituted a place of reference to the neighborhood and the the city. At the end of the decade of 1980, due to the construction of the route, the park lost his connection with the bay and devaluated itself.

Montevideo bay & hill.jpg

Cultural/social/political context

Brief explanation of culture, political economy, legal framework

Montevideo (1.500.000 inhabitants) is the capital of Uruguay (3.500.000 inhabitants) and is located in south of South America. This country borders Northern and East with Brazil, West with Argentina and South with the Atlantic Ocean. Culturally, Uruguay is the result of its moderate climate, of his peripherial condition, of its small scale and of the mixture of diverse migratory inflows, principally coming from Spain and Italy and in minor measure from the assimilation of the african population brought as slave during the XVIII century. In the first half of the XIXth century, the native population of these lands was totally exterminated and / or assimilated by the dominant european culture in the process of constitution of the "modern State". During the second half of the XIX century and the first half of the XX century the french model was adopted as reference to institutional and educational level. Uruguay has a long tradition of democratically elected governments and stable institutions. This tradition was interrupted in two occasions by police and military governments between 1933 and 1938 and more recently between 1973 and 1985. The economy of the country is based on the export of raw materials, agroindustrial products, food products and services in general. The tourism is increasingly relevant in it´s economy. Nowadays some of the principal sociocultural challenges that Uruguay faces, are the population aging, the need of improvement of labor opportunities and the levels of income of a major part of the population (the poverty reaches 23 % in the whole country), the improvement of education levels in the context of a highly competitive and technology dependent world, the defense of the natural resources of the country facing the investor´s increasing pressures in all areas, the improvement of the environmental monitoring systems, and the diversification of the energetic matrix, nowadays dependent for the most part on oil and hydroelectric power. Uruguay is an independent republic since 1825. It is organized on the national level in three autonomous powers: legislature, executive and judiciary. A territorial decentralization of the power exists also, in turn in local governments that possess a legislative power (Junta Departamental) and an executive power (Intendencia). In local areas (departments) both, the laws and national procedure and the local procedure govern. The before mentioned, are subordinate to the laws, decrees and regulations of national scope. In Montevideo the government of the city (Intendencia de Montevideo, IMM and the parliament of Montevideo /Junta Departmental) elaborates and approve the plans for the city.

The considered project is a Detailed Project elaborated by the IMM and approved by the Junta Departamental (parliament of Montevideo), framed inside the special plan Bahía-Capurro-Bella Vista-La Teja. The general frame in turn is given by the Plan Montevideo elaborated by the IMM in consultancy with the state University (UDELAR). The administration of the port activity is a competition of the national government across the ANP (Administración Nacional de Puertos).

General information on Montevideo / Uruguay

Cultural Dimension / Simbolic destruction of Montevideo and its emblematic sites: a bit of anger or rage (video clip "Panic attack")

Cultural Dimension / traditional Uruguayan rural landscape: a bit of nostalgia (film "The journey to the sea")

Spatial analysis of area/project/plan

What are the main structural features? How has it been shaped? Were there any critical decisions?

The principal structural features of the project are:

A platform constructed on the North-East edge of the bay that articulates public space with productive, recreative and commercial activities. This platform includes a pier, a coastal walk, office and residential towers that are to the scale of the Montevideo´s bay and hill. This project implies an environmental previous recovery. The environmental conditions of the bay are expected to be improved significantly with the completion of the municipal sanitation plan IV. (IMM foreseen for 2012). A critical aspect is the proximity of the oil refinery. Its movement does not seem to be feasible in a short-term, due to the investment needed (the Uruguayan State cannot confront it today) and due to his strategic location near the port and the routes of access to the city. Anyway, the landscape of the bay has much of a industrial landscape and this would be positive if it would not implied certain levels of pollution. Another critical aspect of this project relates to the articulation of the different involved scales (that is, scale of the bay, scale of the port infrastructures, scale of the cars, scale of the pedestrian). The reference images let see this difficulty.

Overview of Project Bay-detail Capurro-Bella Vista

Environmental survey of the bay / fishing port:

Analysis of program/function

  • What are the main functional characteristics?
  • How have they been expressed or incorporated?

This project involves the construction of a new place for public use that integrates various activity areas such as:

a fishing pier, recreational areas (marina, walkways, swimming pools), commercial areas (a ferry terminal for the Montevideo-Buenos Aires line, a terminal for large international cruises, hotels, offices) and residential areas (in a tower typology).

The project is at an early stage thus the land usage appear as a general zoning.

Overview of Project Bay-detail Capurro-Bella Vista

Environmental survey of the bay / fishing port:

Analysis of design/planning process

  • How was the area/project/plan formulated and implemented?
  • Were there any important consultations/collaborations?

The Montevideo plan (Plan Montevideo-POT) in its management report, sets out areas for promotion, within which the Bay has a prominent place. In this case the aim is to promote the recovery of the link between the city and the bay, the densification of the area, enhance residential areas and improve the relationship port-city.

Planning for the city of Montevideo has been present throughout history. The POT (Land Use Plan), Plan Montevideo, 1998 (currently under revision since 2005), was adopted by the Parliament of Montevideo after a process of preparation, evaluation and public consultation in which governments , academics and members of civil society worked. This is a general plan that regulates and structures the actions in the territory. This plan intended to innovate in organization and management tools for planning, understood this as a process that must include citizen participation.

With respect to the regulation framework, the current project integrates various and diverse instruments, included in the POT (Departmental Decree 28242) and complies with the provisions of the Law of territorial planning and sustainable development (National Law 18308). The initiative, as required by law, was presented at three public hearings before being sent by the City Government to the City Parliament for final approval.

POT instruments that are present in this project are:

Special Management Plan (BELLA VISTA-CAPURRO-LA TEJA)

Promotion Area (BAY). They are territorial units with priority for action, with long range projection, combining public and private actors.

Detailed Project (STRIP EDGE-CAPURRO BELLA VISTA), this is an instrument developed by the General Plan, the Special Plans and the Zonal Plans Management.

Action Units (Bella Vista pier). It is a land management tool in urban, rural or suburban potentially developable land, within a defined area that aim to synchronize their implementation through Detailed Projects. In this case, it articulates the installation of the fishing port, residential developments in the coastal strip, public spaces and the connection Capurro Neighbourhood - Capurro Park - Bay.

General framework / plan montevideo:

Municipal sanitation plan IV:

Analysis of use/users

  • How is the area/project/plan used and by whom?
  • Is the use changing? Are there any issues?

This is an area currently inaccessible and without a clear use. This area is at the same time facing the expansive pressure of the port of Montevideo. It is surrounded by old industrial buildings and others that are still in use such as the oil refinery and a power plant. Both are state-owned.

The closure of these plants, which are sources of contamination does not seem feasible in the short term. That would depend on the change in the country's energy matrix. This process of energy source substitution and energy diversification has already begun but slowly, with the use of biofuels, deployment of wind farms and solar energy, used mainly at home and in hotel buildings. There are feasibility studies (and three possible locations) and is on the agenda of Montevideo, the construction of a wind farm that would supply energy for all street lighting of the city. This transformation together with the completion of construction of the IV sanitation plan in 2012 would improve significantly the environmental condition of the bay.

The Bahia -Capurro-Bella Vista project proposes new uses (recreational, residential, commercial) in this border and improve the physical conditions for public access to the bay. Increasing biodiversity in the area looks like a difficult goal to achieve because of the high degree of antropization and the intensity of the proposed activities

Core Question 2: What is the role of landscape architecture in this project?

In this phase of the project, the landscape architecture plays the role of coordinating and builder of an image-logo, a general and synthetic one, that suggests a possible future. This project-image, acts as a general reference and an object of desire, understandable and useful for negotiating with stakeholders, at an early stage. The landscape architecture has set up the public and recreational priority for this new place. It has also defined the project basic components that in this case are the platforms, the pier, the docks, the residential towers, and the natural areas, as well as their disposition. The landscape architecture has to work out the agenda, as well as the key aspects of the project, ie how to integrate the different scales (which are that of the bay, the port infrastructure, that of the automobile, the district and the pedestrian).

Image Gallery


General information on Montevideo / Uruguay

Cultural Dimension / Simbolic destruction of Montevideo and its emblematic sites: a bit of anger or rage (video clip "Panic attack")

Cultural Dimension / traditional Uruguayan rural landscape: a bit of nostalgia (film "The journey to the sea")

Planification process in Montevideo:

Poverty in Uruguay:

Overview of Project Bay-detail Capurro-Bella Vista

Environmental survey of the bay / fishing port:

General framework / plan montevideo:

Approval of the project (parliament of Montevideo)

Municipal sanitation plan IV:

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