BACK TO FRONT: ENVISIONING AN ALTERNATIVE FOR THE ESTERO SALADO

This summer school aims to provide professionals engaged in environmental planning and urban development with the critical tools to design and manage an integrated provision of both housing and ecological infrastructure. Its goals are premised on the lack of scalar integration and participatory planning in the implementation of large-scale and capital-intensive ecological mega-projects in the global South – and in Ecuador more particularly. Indeed, the emergence of ecological mega-projects in the global South is undeniable. Their implementation in the context of rapid growth, consolidated self-building practices and increasing inequality holds innumerable threats to equitable urban development. Co-producing ecological urbanism for inclusive city transformation is therefore an essential skill for engendering meaningful social and physical change. With the ‘global city’ discourse strongly impacting on the governance of urban eco-restoration and residential developments in many cities, the delineation of alternative ecological management strategies and housing typologies remains largely neglected.

In Ecuador, the Buen Vivir concept has bred many promises to promote alternative forms of development and spread well-being across the country’s human settlements. In line with this agenda, Ecuador’s largest city and port has been subject to significant transformations, out of which the most prominent is the Guayaquil Ecologico. This large-scale intervention is expected to provide a significant amount of new recreational and environmental areas proportioned to the number of Guayaquil’s inhabitants in order to enduringly safeguard and re-introduce nature in the city. The project, initiated by the Ministry of Environment in coordination with a number of other state institutions (MIES, MSP, MIDUVI, MINEDUC, DIRNEA and the Guayas Gobernaciòn) is under execution. In the context of a fragile estuarine landscape, it aspires to recover over 40 kilometres of waterfront along the Estero Salado, leading to the eviction of some communities who depend on water for their livelihoods but are also subject to the threats of climate change and pollution.

This international summer school expects to train urban designers and environmental planners, enhancing capacity as to espouse ecological restoration and management with equitable city-making and housing provision. It aims to sustain the incorporation of participation in decision-making advanced in Ecuador’s national development strategies in the specific context of ecological planning initiatives. The workshop will combine design perspectives from ecological urbanism and housing conception with multi-stakeholder workshops and intensive fieldwork in order to propose intermediate and inclusive design proposals. By learning how to operate at the intermediate scale, workshop participants will rely on participatory urban design to solve the conflict between the scale of the ecological mega-project (and the development pressure it is generating) and the scale of the affordable housing needs of vulnerable urban dwellers. All participants will gain competence to use the performative capacity of existing human settlements and ecological conditions as the starting point for proposing innovative and sustainable interplays of urbanization, landscape and infrastructure.


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