That’s the question architects and urban planners are asking now in an effort to avoid some of BA’s urban utopia missteps of the past half century. Or at least, viewed through a more optimistic prism, what it could look like.
“We had an amazing city until the 1950’s, but since then we’ve had a growing demand for infrastructure, for train stations, for ports, and we didn’t build them. As a result, today Buenos Aires doesn’t enjoy the comfort of public spaces, infrastructure and public transportation adequate for its economic capacity,” architect Alberto Varas tells Clarin’s Marcelo Larraquy in an excellent analysis, Buenos Aires 2030: The Challenges of the Future City.
Varas sees the city’s natural flow and future development currently confined by the 20-mile General Paz elevated beltway to the west, an odd triangle of crumbling train stations (Retiro, Once and Constitution) and 800 kilometers of rail lines dissecting practically every barrio. In his words, “The structure of the city is a prisoner of a rail system that is no longer consistent with the needs of the present.”
Another challenge going forward is the current sprawl of Buenos Aires which took place over the past fifty years with very different zones for living, working, studying and shopping with great distances between each zone. The City’s Director of Planning, Fernando Alvarez de Celis, says the spread of basic services in some barrios is such that residents have to walk 6 or 7 blocks jut to buy milk. The exception to the norm is a barrio like San Telmo which has everything residents need within 500 meters.
After listening to several urban planners bemoan the problems of the past, the author arrives at this conclusion: “The urban utopia for Buenos Aires in 2030 is public transportation.” (Full Story in Spanish)
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