Leading a visionary project to integrate Villa 31, the Government of Buenos Aires collaborated with Gehl to put people at the center of the planning and design.
Through a didactic process, Gehl built capacity within the city government to analyze and evaluate the inherent public life of the neighborhood, collaborated to develop a large-scale urban vision and provided recommendations to promote public life and sustainable mobility.
With a focus on building local capacity, Gehl conducted a Public Space/ Public Life survey throughout 7 neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, providing a comparison of Barrio 31 with the rest of the city. The analysis from this survey led Gehl to develop a series of strategies and proposals for the SECISyU to foster safe and inclusive public spaces. The team outlined strategies that recognize the importance of different scales, functions, and activities in creating spaces for people. Lastly, with help from the city, Gehl developed the design of 4 ‘hinge’ public spaces and set the parameters for an international competition to transform the highway into a linear park.
The vision called for extending the city’s infrastructure, providing the opportunity for citizenship and a vibrant community to form within the collective identity of Buenos Aires. Gehl encouraged the city to embrace the industrial port at the edge of Barrio 31 and reclaim the waterfront as a place for people, recognizing the history of Buenos Aires as a port city deeply connected to its coastal edge.
For decades, residents have demanded change. Today, many welcome the improvements that the government is making in the neighborhood. It can’t be said enough that it’s essential not to romanticize conditions that emerged out of scarcity and need. However, it is also necessary to elevate the values and strengths of the community so as to retain them in the redeveloped neighborhood and apply their lessons to other development projects.