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American Society of Landscape Architects

 

May 2008 Issue

Cultivating a Cultural Oasis
An artists’ retreat outside New Delhi draws on Indian traditions of open-space design.

By Minhazz Majumdar

Cultivating a Cultural Oasis
Photo by by Hemant Mehta

After an almost 100-year period of stagnation, Puerto Madero, the original port area of the city of Buenos Aires, is rebounding as a huge redevelopment district. Although the new architecture isn’t always relevant to the historic character of the port, the new central area reconnects the city with the historic maritime landscape of the river. Integral to that central area are two new large parks that were designed as part of the master plan for the port.

The first of these parks, Micaela Bastidas Park (see “Tango Nuevo,” Landscape Architecture, April 2004), encompasses 19 acres and was completed in 2002. Twenty-four-acre Mujeres Argentinas Park was finished last September. Its name refers to the fact that all new streets in the area were named after significant local women (mujeres), and this park symbolically alludes to all of them. As one of the pieces that shapes the new urban system on which the development lies, Mujeres Argentinas Park provides a green space with an especially well-defined metropolitan scale and character.

Corporacion Antiguo Puerto Madero, the partnership that fused public and private funds for the renovation of the old port, called for a national competition for the design of the area’s new green spaces and the restoration of the historic waterfront. The design team that came together to win the competition included some of the best designers in Buenos Aires: architects Marcelo Vila and Adrian Sebastian, architect and landscape designer Irene Joselevich, architect and architectural historian Graciela Novoa, architect Nestor Magarinos, and urban planner Alfredo Garay.

The winning design established a series of pieces that were built in phases. Although the two parks were laid out very differently from the beginning, the designers had to adapt the final design of the second park to budget cutbacks that led to simplifying the design. The park had always been thought of as a large central space that would serve as a gathering podium flanked by small plazas, unlike Micaela Bastidas Park, which is more compartmentalized. However, the architectural language of Micaela Bastidas Park, based visually in strong gabions that demarcate different areas and levels, is also used in Mujeres Argentinas Park.

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