This project consists of a small sports and water park, including a water park that consists of one swimming pool with fountains and playground. The rest of the amenities, include a bike lane, some basketball and soccer courts, bathrooms, food kiosks (something indispensable in order to make the intervention financially sustainable), and a trail that borders the entire perimeter.

There is a fence that runs all around the perimeter of the park, except in the water, where the estuary serves as a border.  The fence is made of PVC pipes that are filled with concrete and connected to a steel top and bottom. Nevertheless, walking around, it seems as though even the strength of this fence is not a stop for misbehavior …

Security escorting us around the park

Once again, you can see that the facades adjacent to the project have been redone (something that reoccurs in every project that I saw and that obviously caricaturizes the area a little too much), while the houses and streets that lie beyond remain unpainted, unpaved and in some areas still remain without the basic services.

Since the project is so punctual and remains quite disconnected from its surroundings and some of the structural problems (education, lack of employment, etc), although it does provided some wonderful spaces and opportunities for some of the children and residents that live in the area, I want to draw the attention to some satellite photographs showing the origin of this informal neighborhood.

Since Guayaquil is basically a large marshland, the first settlers begin by making bridges in order to connect the their houses to the filled in land. The bridges are the continuation of the more established “streets”. The houses as the video below reflects, are raised from the ground and supported by piers. Slowly, “this spider web” of bridges and houses gets filled-in with more houses; in this manner, so does the marsh with garbage, dirt, rocks and whatever the new residents can find.  The 3rd photograph below clearly illustrates a more established informal neighborhood (filled in land/higher density), and it expansion into the marsh. Director of Planning, Jose Nuñez, pointed out in our conversation that there is a deficit of about 300 000 houses in Guayaquil, and that this number keeps increasing since Guayaquil receives in average 5000 migrant families per year; theses families, from all over the country (mostly coming from humble rural areas), are usually composed of 5 members, making a migration of 25 000 people/year.

The previous 2 photographs show the site at 2 different times before the intervention was completed.

image showing an early stage of an informal settlement in one of the adjacent areas in Guayquil

For video of what one of these informal settlements looks like  (located in the area of Esmeraldas Chiquito), copy and past the following link:

Something else to point out is the amount of garbage found in the estuary. Although, the area was closed off by the trail, thus making a continuous path to walk around the park, and isolating a small lake for the park, the amount of garbage-accumulated daily is absurd. Even though the “lake” is separated, it is still part of the Salado Estuary and being closed off, it becomes a net trapping all of the garbage thrown into the estuary. It seems as though people in the surrounding area do not have any way to dispose of their garbage and as such, throw it into the water.

In my opinion, projects that encompass a more aggressive environmental and educational stance towards the marsh lands seem to be absolutely necessary for the maintenance of a not only beautiful but healthy, sustainable and safe city.  For some reason I am thinking of Abalos and Herreros Recycling Plant in the outskirts of Madrid- the plant is also a museum where the public gets to learn about the process of producing methanol, becoming part of the experience and truly making this useful and performative architecture. In any case, just a quick thought.

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