Breathing new life into a previously underutilized area: a premier riverfront park where both the richness of local biodiversity is celebrated and the community is inspired to cultivate a profound connection with the river.
The city of Buenos Aires (GCBA) and the Central Society of Architects (SCA) called the “National Competition of Ideas for Buenos Aires and the River” (Parque Publico Costa Urbana) for a uniquely located site on the Rio de la Plata, a river estuary that separates Argentina and Uruguay. The project focuses on revaluing existing features, reclaiming significant park relics, celebrating local biodiversity, and implementing ecological restoration initiatives.
West 8 as landscape architects, worked together with Buenos Aires based studio, PALO arq on the winning entry. Transforming the underutilized area into a space for contemplation, community engagement and activation, the winning proposal, entitled Buenos Aires “Rioparque”, reimagines the waterfront site as a valuable addition to the city of Buenos Aires, as it transitions from the city to the river’s edge.
Focusing on six main actions, the project places a strong emphasis on revaluing existing features, reclaiming significant park relics, celebrating local biodiversity, and implementing ecological restoration initiatives:
Connecting the community to the riverfront, and integrating the park into the ecological corridors, to ensure seamless accessibility from the city; Activating the neglected space into an area that offers cultural and natural landscapes, by providing opportunities for recreation, education, and community engagement; Recovering local biodiversity and ecosystems entitled “Selva Marginal, Pastizal & Talar”; Celebrates significant park relics by preserving and reclaiming these structures; Educating by providing learning landscapes, offering new destinations and display spaces and, lastly, provides 360-degree views of the city and water for relaxation, enjoyment, and contemplation.
To achieve these six goals, the proposal identified three main areas that each respond to different edge conditions of the site: the canal, the low lands, and the river edge:
The Meadow and the Garden of Relics [La pradera & el jardin de las reliquias]
Reinforcing the existing city axes, the main access points to the park are through the Av. España promenade. As the first area of the park experienced by a visitor, this area offers a market by rehabilitating an existing building, a meadow for passive recreation, and an immersive nature experience through the Garden of Relics.
The Phytoremediation Archipelago [El archipielago de fitoremediacion]
Secondly, the design proposes a walk through an archipelago of water-level phytoremediation plants. These plants and their associated microorganisms are particularly effective in improving the functionality and recovery of contaminated waters. The floating walkways lead to a bird pavilion, a structure dedicated to observing the 300 species that are located in the Ecological Reserve area of the plan.
The Southern Lookout [El mirador del Sur]
At the end of the park, there is a lookout over the water, offering a unique view of the Costanera Sur Reserve, the city, and the Rio de la Plata. Featuring two looping pathways, and embedding flood resiliency, the low path invites visitors to traverse the “Balcon” and connect with the water’s edge. The high path, protected from future flooding, meanders between the different programmed spaces, playground and outdoor cinema. With the proposal’s understanding of this unique point in the city, and one of the few available waterfront pieces of Buenos Aires, the park proposes a new icon of the city: the Southern Lighthouse. This beacon is a place where visitors can climb, have a unique view of the entire site, and reflect on the cityscape beyond.
The city of Buenos Aires organized the competition, “Parque Publico Costa Urbana”, in collaboration with the Central Society of Architects (SCA) and was sponsored by the Argentine Federation of Architectural Entities (FADEA). The multidisciplinary team was led by West 8 and developed the vision collaboratively in partnership with PALO arq (architecture + urban design), MIC-HUB (mobility consultant) and MGF (ecology and landscape consultant). the jury announced WEST 8 + PALO arq as the winners of the competition for “Buenos Aires and River – Urban Coastal Public Park” on March 15th, 2023.
Buenos Aires City in collaboration with Central Society of Architects (SCA), and sponsored by the Argentine Federation of Architects (FADEA)
WEST 8 + PALO arq
WEST 8 – landscape architecture
PALO arq – architecture + urban design
MIC-HUB – mobility
MGF – landscape and ecology
Renders – © WEST 8 + PALO arq
Plans and diagrams – © West 8