The "Inhabitable Docks" for the "Estero Salado" Enviromental Restoration

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The "Inhabitable Docks" for the "Estero Salado" Enviromental Restoration
Guayaquil is the biggest city of Ecuador. It contains more than 3 million people. With an occupied area bigger than 45.000 hectares, its size is bigger than Buenos Aires or Barcelona; and it keeps growing constantly. As the most important city in the country’s economical development, Guayaquil is always an attractive destination for those who search for a better income. Most of these persons come from Ecuador’s inner provinces. Unfortunely for most of them, their new living conditions are miserable. Guayaquil still has neighborhoods on deplorable situations since 40 or 50 years ago. This project was born, as we started to worry about the relations between the city and the natural environments around it. Because of the city’s nature as a port, we focus on how Guayaquil affects the hydrographical events that surround it. These include the Guayas River and the “Estero Salado`, in Spanish the “Salted Estuary`. In our personal research, we observed some occupation processes, used by the new humble inhabitants, near the estuary’s shore. Those processes bring awful consequences for the estuary’s natural environment. The new Occupants use to build their houses over the water, using mangrove trunks as structure. These houses do not consider any structural study at all. Normally, they’re built with recycled wood, and plastic or zinc sheets as a ceiling. They also don’t count with any type of plumbing, so their users are forced to throw their human residues to the estuary. To all this, we must add the terrible consequences brought by a municipal law, which permits the occupants to refill the area under their houses with rocks, garbage and constructions waste, to make that area a land of their own. All these things we’ve mentioned have erased the original shores in the area. Some estuary’s islands have disappeared completely, because of this urban behavior. According to our opinion, an effective solution to the mentioned problems should consider the following aspects: • It should offer a better and safer place for the occupants, with the benefit of electrical and water supply. • It should permit the shores recovery, especially for its reforestation with local mangrove species. • Because of its proximity with the city, the estuary should be considered as a urban space, instead of a natural one. So, it becomes necessary to implement urban treatments and urban activities on it; like nautical transport in small scale, craft fishing and tourist rides. If their inhabitants feel the estuary as a part of their habitat, they would take care for it. This also means, the architectural solution should transform the place into an attractive point to visit. • It would be a great success, if we could include a benefit not only for the shore’s occupants, but for the people living in the blocks, beside the shore. All those points were considered in our proposal result: “The Inhabitable Dock`. It is a 30m long dock, with an oversized structure, designed not only to serve for boats, but to hold up the houses of those who live nowadays over the estuary’s waters. These docks should be built respecting the distance between the streets that end perpendicularly to the shore. Its columns are separated 5m from each other, and its height is increased with 5m more. This allows the insertion of small and light houses between the dock’s structures. It is projected that each dock could contain at least, 10 houses. The only restrictions the occupants should take note about are weight and volume. That gives an interesting touch of uncertainly to the project, because its final look would be given by the dock’s occupants, and not by the architects. The Inhabitable Docks would promote other activities, linked with the estuary; specially between their occupants, which used to be urged to get a job. Another plus to this prototype is the benefit that brings to the people who live beside the shore. The Dock’s inhabitants take the electric energy and potable water from the existing city system; but there’s no residual water system on the area. So, we consider also to build a small treatment plant, under its docking floor entrance. This plant would also serve to the houses in front of the inhabitable dock. Finally, the translation of the houses, from the estuary to the docks, would leave many wide open spaces, across the shore. We would reforest those areas with mangrove. That would help to recover the site’s natural conditions. Better space, better infrastructure, Nature recovering. This project is one of the many paths that architecture should make cities more authentic and interesting, as our lives become easier, happier, and better.


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