Transversal Grounds: Engaging Infrastructure, Landscape and Heritage for Lima’s New Urban Commons

In developing countries, heritage sites in urban settings often collide with urban growth and economic expansion.  Lima has more than 385 archeological sites within its urban tissue, the capital city with the most pre-Columbian heritage sites in the Americas.  However, their sacred significance and historical value have been lost, neglected, and enclosed by walls; these endangered sites appear as urban black holes, gravitationally attracting the encroaching urbanization.

What we see today as huge mounds of earth and dust were part of a unique diffuse city built over an articulated system of canals, agroforestry, ceremonial centers and settlements, connected by an efficient road network, which composed a built sacred landscape articulated to ecological and social processes. Today, these places, called Huacas, are evenly distributed in the megacity: they embedded in a huge catalog of urban complexity and they can potentially trigger systemic changes in the city: a perfect laboratory to explore design issues where heritage is an opportunity for reimagining the future of an entire city.  

How can these ancient sacred sites be reimagined as woven into the fabric of community life, preserving their legacy while reducing Lima’s public and green space deficit and mitigate Lima’s critical food and water insecurity?

The Maranga complex is one of the biggest heritage sites, located in what is now the geometric center of the megacity, and a perfect opportunity to investigate how to deal with multi-scalar complexity, blurring boundaries between architecture, landscape, and urban design. The case study research will focus on the transformation of obsolete urban programs like zoos and enclosed urban university campuses with no student housing.

We will learn from the diffuse, ancient underlying city to reinvent the 21st Century commons through innovative, hybrid urban infrastructures, productive landscape and architectural spaces, intensifying city life, and ensuring an urban food hub system in this ever-growing megacity.  A field trip to Washington DC is planned to allow to see how food deserts have been created in the US and learn from the people who are fighting them with urban food hub systems.  Workshops with students and teachers of the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences at the land-grant UDC will take place as part of the studio.

The studio will start right away with design research, complemented by discussions with renown experts about the many issues of the project. We’ll have an immersion in essential topics as Heritage, Housing, ecological infrastructure and Food Hubs through readings and lectures by an environmental economist, a preservation architect, a scientist, a biologist, an NGO leader, a Peruvian leading urban designer and a water infrastructure expert.

Students in the Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Urban Design and Planning programs are welcomed.

This course will meet weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The instructors will be in residence on the following days: January 24-27; February 22-25; March 21-May 4.
Class will be held via Zoom on all other Tuesdays and Thursdays.