The Somos Choapa initiative is a public-private partnership that brings together the municipalities of Illapel, Salamanca, Los Vilos and Canela, Los Pelambres Mining Company and the communities where its mining operation has had an impact. As part of the initiative, we conceived a vision for the region and a set of projects that range from schools to sports facilities, infrastructure, and public spaces. San Agustín (a 450 inhabitant’s village) is one of them; after a participatory process, the square was identified as a preferred place for an intervention.
There were two aspects that led the process. On the one hand, there was an existing project that had been submitted to the public investment system, but due to its cost had been rejected over and over. On the other hand, people wanted a square that did not look like a city square.
Originally, the site was mainly a crossroads from which a certain sense of centrality in the middle of the vastness could be experienced, but it was not really a proper square. The scarce resources led us to focus the intervention only on the edges, where we opted for the creation of a loop with no corners, a continuous round promenade for doing what people in small towns like to do: walk around and watch other people walking around. The impossibility of levelling the ground, due to the lack of money for any soil movements, resulted in the creation of a figure that would follow the existing topography. Such a flexible intervention was perceived by the local community as exhibiting respect for geography, which they felt was the most valuable element of the area.
– Starting from the survey of existing crossing, we find an underlying geometry, defining a perimetral sidewalk that defines the limits of the square, creating an exclusive 250-meter loop of paved area in the village.
– a main brick paved circular area of 20-meter diameter, that concentrates the kids’ playground.
– a set of 6 circular vegetal areas, with local plants and flowers, to limit and concentrate the green areas to be maintained and irrigated.
Architect: ELEMENTAL | Alejandro Aravena, Gonzalo Arteaga, Juan Cerda, Diego Torres, Víctor Oddó
Design Team: Clémence Pybaro, Cristián Martínez
Landscape: Jadue & Livingstone Arquitectura del Paisaje
Client: MLP (Los Pelambres Mine)
Location: Salamanca, CHILE
Area: 4.700 m2
Photo Credits: @Cristóbal Palma, @ELEMENTAL