(Re)claiming Santiago's Landform: Towards a New Urban Ecology
Santiago faces today the dilemmas of a segregated society, whereby access to green areas correlates with access to a high income. This is only enhanced by market driven sprawl, pushing out socially vulnerable groups to the barren peripheries where land is cheap, crime and flood risk is high and public space is non existent.
Amidst the chaos, twenty-six hills rise above the gray urban fabric. They are referred to as "cerros isla" or island-hills, illustrating their odd, isolated appearance as they embed in the city’s flat valley. Poor urban governance has opened the door for countless private interest groups to take over, flattening some of these foothills for exclusive housing developments. This disregards their enormous potential as natural green spaces for everyone, and not only for a few.
The aim of this thesis project is to reclaim the "cerros isla", recognizing their capacity to engage with a spatially and economically segregated society. It is a new imagination for the city, where these hills are a medium through which the separate parts of an urbanized space relate to one another.
...as André Corboz argues, “the land is not a throw-away wrapper or a consumer product which can be replaced” [Corboz, A. (1983) The Land as Palimpsest]. Thus, there must be a symbiotic relationship between the city’s topographic surface and the population that has established in its folds.
This project prompts a reoriented reading of landscape, stepping away from the desktop screen-saver image of nature, instead recognising its potential to engage with political, socio-economical, topographical, cultural and ecological aspects. Even with relatively modest interventions, existing spatial configurations could tip over and turn into a new urban ecology.