Promoted by the ANSeS, the Presidency of the Republic of Argentina, and organized by the Central Society of Architects, what will emerge from the recent contest to redevelop a former railroad installation located in the Palermo district?
Not long ago, the Palermo district ended at the Juan B. Justo Avenue, a virtual boundary reinforced by a brick viaduct and the old train tracks. In recent years, however, a gentrifying process began as famous artists recycled houses and used them as new ateliers, or workshops. Other bars and designer shops then arrived and the whole area became fashionable and one of its sub-zones, the most glamorous, was renamed ‘Palermo SoHo.’
Another sub-district, named ‘Palermo Hollywood,’ intersects Juan B. Justo Avenue and has brought television producers and channels, that together with new bars and restaurants, has also transformed this area into another 'hip' part of town.
The metamorphosis of this area in recent years suggests that the transformation of this avenue needs to be more than just another boundary between SoHo and Hollywood ‘Palermos,’ but a green hub that organizes and enhances two neighborhoods of great vitality, with the imperative of linking the west of the city with its great metropolitan parks.
The winning project of the urban design idea contest, from Architects Mario Jorge Boscoboinik and Iribarne, allocates only 25% of the land for housing construction. These buildings will be of varying heights with a commercial base. The proposal is to make towers of no more than seventeen floors (those which have already been built on the other side, in Palermo Hollywood, are over forty floors). And to the side of the Godoy Cruz Street build on a smaller scale, about four levels, maintaining consistency with existing landscape features.
But the most important part of the urban planning project is to leave 75% of the space free in order to create a large linear park with sculptures.
What is not clear though, is for whom the park is for? Will it be for the residents of the new buildings? Or is a metropolitan-scale park that would be part of a new axis joining Juan B. Justo Avenue, New Park, and Palermo Woods - a Hyde Park for Buenos Aires?
In the rise of placemaking and small urbanism, is this a real alternative for any city? Or are the days of grand urban projects over?
Credits: Images by Luis Lozano-Paredes and linked to sources. Data linked to sources.