Recycling a territory faced with the dangers of natural disasters

About the competition question of how to recycle an area threatened by natural disasters, «isLand» serves as a metaphor to suggest a new way of organizing the lifestyle of Puerto Saavedra. The proposal is the vision that integrates town and landscape in a single entity projected from the use of the logic of territory and the nature’s power as an energy which constructor of this new identity.

This place has a strong landscape’s identity. The name of this place in mapundugun is «Konun Traytrayko» (meeting of the waters). This word expresses its ambiguous condition of ground-water. So, we understand that the town and the territory should be rethought from that special condition.

The two problems to be solved are the flood and tsunami. To do this, we propose the recycling of foundational colonial grid into a naturalized model which responds to logical  water control. Our proposal is divided in  3  «action» spaces:

The crops retention:

In front to the agricultural area is proposed a wider section of the existing channel tracing the city limit according to the floods and river overflows of the Imperial River. This limit of variable length results in new spaces and places of social and tourism interaction. The new retention ponds allow the conservation of wetlands  where self-cultivation and biodiversity are recovered. The new hybrid technology towers serve as points of emergency evacuation as well as treatment tanks for water and container for other activities such as hotels, observatories landscape, museum spaces and utilization of solar and wind energy.

The streets-canal:

The current section of 20 meters street becomes a naturalized canal capable of absorb growing levels of water and bring water to the sea. We propose a new road system to reduce the space for traffic and reinforce the eco mobility such as foot, bicycle or horse. At the same time,  new walk paths between countryside and the sea with water-related activities are created.

The Park of Defense:

The coastline is redefined by the creation of a public park. The construction of a new front six meters above the water level ensures stop the wave in case a tsunami is developed. Once the natural barrier has acted, a second buffer will help mitigate the impact. This buffer park consists in the treatment of topography accompanied by a large mass of vegetation of pines, eucalyptus and shrubs.

The aim of the proposal is that Saavedra becomes a model of a quality city. Placed in a diversity of landscapes area, we propose that Saavedra recycles itself in another peace. It can become an “island” that embraces a way of life in the river flood pain and integrated into the natural ecosystem.

First prize

Title: IsLand.

Project Name: Recycling a territory faced with the dangers of natural disasters

Location: Puerto Saavedra, Araucanía region, Chile

Date: may 2012

Programme: City planning

Organizer: Observatorio Panamericano – OPPTA

Team: Alvaro Cuéllar, Anna Gutiérrez, Jordi Safont-Tria


Urbanist: Israel Barroso

Architects: Sabrina Bentata, Lydia Limperopoulou

Architecture students: Miquel Camacho, Max Gimeno, Nicolás Martínez, Ema Stojevic

Competition carried out in TOC – Taller Obert de Concursos, at the ETSAB, Escuela Técnica Superior Arquitectura de Barcelona, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya.