Community Garden Streetscapes : promoting social cohesion between the formal city and the informal settlements in Hurlingham, Buenos Aires

University essay from SLU/Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management (from 130101)

Abstract: Urbanisation causes challenges related to environmental issues and social conflicts (Sijmons 2010; Elmqvist et al. 2018). On a local level, in the informal settlements of Hurlingham in Greater Buenos Aires, it is expressed through unequal distribution of urban land, severe floodings and segregation (Janches 2020a; van de Berg 2018). The informal settlements, also called barrios populares or barrios vulnerables, emerged in the aftershock of a rapid urbanisation process, in a country which has been dealing with an unstable economy for decades. Barrios populares are built, without provision, by the urban inhabitants themselves (van Gelder 2017). Today they provide shelter for over 1 600 000 people excluded from the formal city (van de Berg 2011). The residents in the informal settlements are exposed to high risk of crime, floods and pollution (Janches 2020a). Yet, in these vulnerable self-created neighborhoods, cultural assets such as social streetlife (WUF10 2020) and strong sense of community can be found (Janches 2012). This thesis examines how these site specific aspects can be enhanced by a transformation of the streets through the concept of community garden streetscapes. Design and management strategies for community garden streetscapes in Hurlingham are developed based on literature findings and inspiration from reference projects. Moreover, five streetscape typologies have been formulated based on a street’s typical attributes. Overall design ideas for all streetscape typologies are presented and the visualisations show how the gardens can fill a variety of purposes, from increased food availability and lowering the number of unemployed, to the creation of recreational and biological values. In terms of enhancing social cohesion between the residents in the formal city and the informal settlements, the street typology Bridging Street, has proven to be most suitable. The thesis takes on a speculative approach and discusses community gardens as one way to handle global challenges at local level. Hopefully it can provide important insights to potential benefits that urban agriculture, in the form of community garden streetscapes, can give to a community in terms of life quality and social cohesion.

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