Calvario Cultivo Social,
holistic urbanism in a historic Caracas informal settlement
Principal Authors: Franco Micucci, Maria Beatriz (Mabe) Garcia-Rincon, Bernardo Dorbessan, Manuel Barrios, Maria Mercedez Hernandez.
This project initiates the process of homeopathic urbanism in the Barrio El Calvario, El Hatillo, in Caracas, Venezuela.
The project was designed for the CAF Development Bank of Latin America urban design competition in 2015. It was a collaborative effort and partnership between Urban Elements Foundation with Venezuelan stakeholders and technical local expertise authoring the report with Mabe who recruited a team of local experts.
Mabe and Maria-Mercedez spoke about a more environmentally inclusive environment for barrios in Caracas. The idea came up when Mabe spent from April 2014-June 2014 doing in-field interviews with El Calvario residents. Humidity was the main issue and mudslides the concern for residents. In the process, Mabe met architect Maria-Mercedes Hernandez who invited her to a Simon Bolivar University studio final reviews. There, she met Nicole, Arantxa, and Beatriz as well as Professors Manuel Barrios and Franco Micucci who had spent 2 years also researching the barrio, trying to understand the landscape and potential architecture projects. The students had a vision for a metro-cable style transport and/or trash/waste system that was more functional. Some students proposed affordable housing, and together with the professor's expertise wowed UEF's team.
Mabe then set-up a team with Franco, who together met at Franco's home to spend all summer debating how to best integrate a sustainable yet modern landscape for the CAF proposal. Mabe, Maria-Mercedes, Franco, Nicole and Beatriz worked day and night during June and July drafting the storyboard. Beatriz Gamero and Nicole Garcia had to compose our ideas based on the drawings they had and sketches and research delivered by the lead authors. By mid-August, we had our first 10 slides. Then UEF team edited those ideas over 6 meetings, and voila our project was composed.
Bernardo Dorbessan spent countless hours with the students and Franco to calculate the water/rain output. Bernardo also sketched with Nicole Garcia several water interventions, and the engineering involved from a hydraulics perspective. Beatriz Gamero and Nicole Garcia then sketched the beginning stages of the water flow and the newly needed infrastructure, taking into account underground piping. Franco punched out the numbers for the total proposal, and we had the budget to accompany the reconnection of the piping underground, as well as water swells, and a biogenerator.
The research came from Mabe's two-month surveys and ethnographic field research; Maria-Mercedez's investigation on the biodiversity of the barrio plants and the El Hatillo high culinary and local restaurant economy; Franco's policy and planning documents as well as the long trajectory of knowledge of the legal framework in Caracas' barrios/non-formal system. We surveyed the student's projects and chose three proposals to include in Mabe's proposal of a sustainable life-cycle system for El Calvario. Professors of La Simon Bolivar University, Franco Micucci, and Manuel Barrios chose Nicole Garcia and Beatriz Gamero's final projects to be used as segments for their holistic and advanced knowledge of a place. These students had researched for an entire trimester the barrio as well and came up with the indoor plaza idea and transport as well as waste management interventions.
Mabe brought in her capstone thesis project from Northeastern Unversity on urban food deserts into this project and promoted ideas used in New York's parks and recreation policy planning documents as inspiration. Mabe is a just food system advocate and is trying to promote the development of policy and food alternatives in barrios, to decrease economic burden on poor families, as well as create innovative, productive outlets to decrease crime in barrios as a result of more urban gardening and alternative food sources that ultimately increase productivity. The local team chose UEF's member, Mabe, as the principal author followed by Franco Micucci and Maria-Mercedes Hernandez.
The project though became a group effort with about 20 voices editing. Alan and Judith used their design knowledge to fine tune the proposal in topics relating to the storyboard, the order between slides, the sidewalks, paths, infrastructure. One issue debated was the use of affordable housing and forcefully moving people which were not done. The project is, therefore, a slum upgrading idea.
Judith and Abner from UEF were called upon to share their water management ideas, that came from a project they worked on in Brazil called Caju Initiative. Together we wove the proposal much like the weaving done on an aboriginal basket, using interdisciplinary expertise until we achieved a multifaceted project.
Principal Authors: Franco Micucci, Maria Beatriz (Mabe) Garcia, Bernardo Dorbessan, Manuel Barrios, and Maria Mercedes Hernandez.
Interns who co-authored the proposal and extremely proud of:
Nicole Garcia, Beatriz Garcia, Beatriz Gamero, Arantxa Hernandez.
Architects, urbanists, and designers who illustrated: Claudia Vergara, Cruz Criollo, Jose Angel Perez, Karen Mata, Luis Miguel De Jesus, Jorge Gonzalez. The illustration was done with sketches from Mabe Garcia, Franco Micucci, Nicole Garcia and Beatriz Gamero (the latter interns were graciously given the task of sketching though for the summer wonderful artwork, layer worked in the computer by the whole team at Micucci Architects). Micucci Architects used their in-house maps and 3-D renders of the barrio.
The process of development: Maria-Mercedes, Franco, and Mabe visited the site on 7 occasions taking photographic registration of mold, typology of plants, typology of homes, and indoor as well as outside conditions. Mabe Garcia spent two months conducting door-to-door interviews with about 10% of the population surveyed on mold and ventilation conditions as well as food and agricultural needs.
Note: this is a local project with local expertise (June/July 2015) with citizens from Venezuela. The only outside consulting was done for editing purposes. It is important for UEF that the projects are authored and developed with local expertise.
UEF team: Judith Rodriguez and Alan Waxman (from UEF) helped to edit slides according to an overarching view communicated vis-a-vis the authors and co-authors. Participation occurred for meetings on an ad-hoc basis throughout. Thanks to all the editing and help which tailored the proposal with more definition.