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Mobility and Public Space: A conflict between city Architecture and Infrastructure

Part 1 Project 1999
Patricio Browne
Pontifical Catholic University of Chile Santiago Chile

5 de Abril Avenue: A redevelopment of the urban landscape.

Cities today, particularly Latin American cities, develop in a chaotic manner, i. e. as a complex overlapping of different processes which, though essentially ordered, are hard to read because of their being lumped together.

The need to give the city a form makes it mandatory that we recover the grand scale usually associated with inordinate planning. Our cities, by reason of their growth, never quite absorb such plans.

Our bet is that, by reason of size, form and investment, infrastructures are the precise tool to tackle the grand scale in Latin American cities.

The project is about replanning the grounds of “5 de Abril” Avenue, the main street in the Maipú borough, some 12 miles from Santiago downtown. This avenue will be crossed by an subway train line including 3 of its stations and a suburban train line. The irruption of this infrastructure will completely alter the Maipú landscape.


1998 PUC Architects.

Patricio Browne

I am witing as the thesis tutor of , Lynphay, Browne, and Errazuriz, the joint authors of the thesis/project on Mobility and Public Space.
The issue of the relationship of new large scale infrastructure and the city is no doubt a worldwide question affecting the life, experience and phisiognomy of many cities. One particular reason for it to become even more urgent in a place like Maipu, the thesissite, is the diproportionate imbalence that arises between the proposed infrastructure of rapid transit and the precarious urban structure of the site. Presently only water reservoirs and a single memorial church of vast porportions relate in scale to the new stuctures.
On the other hand, this new urban piece is to be built with public funds representing a great investment within the area : the thesis/project looks into ways of multiplying its effect, averting the possiblity of a deterioration of public conditions in the area and turning to advantage the emergence of a new element of a great scale. The scheme is based upon a real government programme that is now at the preliminary stage of development.
No doubt it is in the relationship of transport, infrastructure, landscape and the fabric of the fringe urban areas, that new modes of urban experience may emerge. As a large metropolitan area, Santiago extends over a vast territory where agricultural traces, large low cost housing schemes, strip commercial developments and roadworks intermingle. This thesis attempts to provide one such area with new forms of legibility , opening up also some possible programmatic scenarios.

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