Project description by jury
This transformation project turns the problem of dismantling a zoo into an opportunity to create a more environmentally aware consciousness in Mendoza. The design reconverts the area formerly occupied by a zoo that closed in 2019 into the site’s original morphology and landscape without imposing a new or too distinctive language. The new park articulates itself around a series of thematic paths (sports circuit, native culture circuit, recycling circuit etc.), along which different activities or temporary events take place. This results in a recreational public space that is deployed to bring a universal message of respect towards both people and nature. In so doing, the project becomes the container of sustainability practices and the place par excellence in the region where awareness around these themes can be enhanced.
Five separate volumes that house eating and cultural facilities integrate into the natural slopes of the area. Covered by green terraces, they achieve minimal visual and land impact. The reconversion of the site is expected to be carried out by the local workforce, which would help strengthen the regional economy.
How to deal with the future of zoos has become an urgent question in many regions of the world – due to both an increased public consciousness about the importance of conserving the natural world, combined with a radical mindset change on the related preservation modalities. The LafargeHolcim Awards jury Latin America appreciated the way this paradigm shift is interpreted by the project which proposes the reuse of the former structure for multiple educational and recreational purposes. Landscape is voluntarily undefined and the boundaries between human space and wilderness can become blurred to accentuate how nature can reclaim its place and reconnect with people. The park is a place for the community where knowledge and sustainability practices can be shared, taught and learned.See more
As a Main category prize winner in the regional Holcim Awards 2020, Park Evolution in Argentina automatically qualified as a finalist in the Global Holcim Awards 2021.
How should zoos be designed and used? A zoo in Mendoza drew heavy criticism and was forced to close in 2019. This project takes that site, completely reconceives it, and transforms it into a place where nature and people can reconnect in harmony. The forms, materials, and characteristics of the entire site will be adapted to merge with the natural landscape. The jury appreciated the proposed adaptive reuse of a former zoo building as a multifunctional educational and recreational facility. The landscaping is intentionally “under-designed,” and the boundaries between human space and wilderness are blurred to accentuate how nature can reclaim its place and reconnect with people. “It’s a public space built in an entirely sustainable way,” says prizewinner Guillermo Lesch of lesch.lafaro, Buenos Aires, Argentina.Read more » Más información (Spanish) »
The austere morphology, the local materials, the language used, all are subject to the original atmosphere, to the characteristics of the natural landscape. The design does not seek to impose itself, but to incorporate itself in harmony. Everything becomes part of the landscape.
The flexibility of the proposed spaces allows future modifications for different uses.
The circuits of the park are dynamic, they allow temporary events such as ecological film festivals, artistic installations with recycled materials, organic Sunday markets - the possibilities are endless.
This place which the zoo occupied has an enormous root in popular identity, visited by family and schools and is closely linked to childhood. Its new identity as the pioneer ecopark in America was received with great pride.
The ecopark meets the highest ethical standards, not only from the project stage to its construction, but from its own concept.
It is a public space, free access, that promotes social inclusion. Fully carried out with the local workforce, strengthening regional economies.
It summons visitors ranging from tourists, schools, families, athletes, neighbors, favoring the formation of socially viable environments and the empowerment of communities.
Local authorities participate in its management and maintenance, interested groups define activities and events, a committee of native peoples organizes and promotes their fair and craft workshops.
The project was the winner of a public and anonymous contest, its construction will also be the result of a public tender.
Respect for the natural environment, its slopes, its climatic conditions, set the whole to achieve total integration.
All the mentioned park cycles, the new buildings incorporated, the events and festivals to be carried out daily, are all actions to promote education and transmission of sustainable practices that are available to everyone.
Both the ecological practices that are learned in the ecopark, as the design of the new buildings, are experiences that demonstrate to the visitor that they can apply the same solutions in their life and their habitat.See more
A project that repurposes a former zoo site in Mendoza for landscape revival and new educational opportunities.
Author comment by Leticia Alfaro and Guillermo Lesch of lesch.alfaro in San Lorenzo, Argentina on Park Evolution in Argentina …
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