SHAPING A SUMMIT TO ORGANIZE A TERRITORY
DESIGN COMPETITION FOR PUBLIC SPACES IN FARELLONES – 2016
The winning proposal in the recent competition to define an urban and transportation plan for the town of Farellones makes use of the “summit” as a central piece that organizes the flows of vehicles and pedestrians. The proposal facilitates social encounter and restores a ecological network integrated throughout the town (1) by defining a core that distinguishes it as a town, a starting point for the definition of its public spaces and its pedestrian network.
(1) The competition Design of Public Spaces for Farellones, a mountain village, FONDART 2016 was organized by the municipality of Lo Barnechea together with the Association of Municipalities with Mountain Centers and the National Council of Culture and Arts (CNCA) which aims to increase the touristic and heritage value of this town and others with similar characteristics in Chile.
The experience of climbing our mountain range implies getting away from the city and approaching the domain of clouds and condors. Along the route, consisting of almost all curves, few horizontal surfaces appear. Each plain or summit has its own name, as do the slopes and the ravines.
The singularity implied by a flat summit creates a space to stop, orient oneself and relax. Thus, it is not surprising that Farellones is built around one of these points of pause and has established itself as an access point to many popular mountain resorts. The truth is that this position has brought several disadvantages for a mountain locality that, apart from its small ski center, has several natural attributes that make it also a summer destination for a large number of Santiago’s inhabitants.
From the point of view of road planning and urban growth, the winter influx of visitors causes an obvious collapse of the local circulation networks, revealing a significant lack of both parking and urban strategies that hierarchically organize the existing system. This system has experienced spontaneous growth over a complex topography. Furthermore, there is unfulfilled need for a pedestrian network; such a network would allow the local inhabitants to move without using the road network and thus alleviate overuse by offering alternative routes, and it would also allow the mountain landscape to be enjoyed.
In social terms, Farellones lacks a meeting place and public equipment for the local community and its visitors, segregating one from the other. Due to its topography and accessibility, the so-called “Great Descent” has not built a transitional space between the residential and touristic sectors. Furthermore, due to the vehicular demands of the summit, which through its position should have the role of a space for social encounter, the space ends up generating a negative friction point between visitors and inhabitants.
From an ecological perspective, there is a clear interruption of the natural flows resulting from the topographic transformations, the road layout and its impervious surface over vulnerable soil. There has been a mismanagement of biodiversity due to the introduction of exotic species that have displaced the native species, causing an imbalance in the ecosystem of the low Andean Mediterranean shrubbery and the wetlands. Culturally speaking, there has been poor recognition of the visual and spatial characteristics of this type of landscape, which is evidenced by a lack of protection for the area’s meadows.
Rethinking the role that the “Great Descent” area will play, together with road plans that the municipality has devised for Farellones, represents an opportunity to resolve several problems. The proposal suggests utilizing the Farellones summit as an organizing element of the road flows and urban development, a facilitator for social encounter and a restoring agent for an ecological network integrated into the whole community.
With regard to roads and urban development, Route G21 that currently traverses the town of Farellones should have a bypass alternative with a covered parking area attached to it. Such a strategy would segregate the local flows from the flows linked to winter tourism, providing more autonomy to the local routes. Thus, the latter could be organized in a logical and hierarchical manner with respect to the daily life of the town, including a pedestrian network designed to facilitate movement and encounter.
As for the social dimension, the surface located above the parking lot and the stretch of bypass area is proposed as a square which is accessible by foot from all Farellones. In this way, a series of public facilities can be organized that characterize each of its five facets based on urban and territorial elements. The central square or plaza should be understood as an organizing summit, which uses two branches to access a wider territory. From one of these branches, the winter sports facilities could be accessed through a walkway, while from the other, there would be access to a public park, the ski slopes and the wild protected areas. This plan would support the characterization of Farellones as a mountain town with unique natural attributes.
Finally, and from an ecological perspective, the plan promotes the reconnection of natural flows through the described network, both by the enrichment of biodiversity and by the more friendly management of the developed slopes to provide an urban plan with ecological connectivity. Protecting the existing meadows is also a central part of the plan; the reconnection of the water flows linked to the meadows demands the inclusion of a protection strip located between the urban limit and the Alto Andina Reserve to thus preserve the fragile ecosystem from the impact of urbanization.
Ricardo Atanacio is an architect of the Central Universithy of Chile and holds a Master’s degree in Architecture from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (PUC). Carolina Contreras is a PUC architect and holds a Master’s degree in Urbanism from TU Delft. Pamela Jarpa is an architect of the PUC and has completed a Post graduate course in Landscape Architecture at the PUC, and Osvaldo Spichiger is an architect from the PUC.