Caracas has given its back to its water landscape. If we bring the covered creeks back to the surface and transform them into a network of lineal parks, then pedestrians, bikes and public transportation will have an unquestionable priority above the car. It is an extraordinary opportunity to solve many of the city's problems in terms of walkability, urban continuity and ecological preservation.
Nowadays it is important to plan cities in a way that helps people understand the nature of their surroundings. To accomplish this, we first should ask ourselves: What is the essence of a place? What are the consequences of our acts in the place we inhabit? Recognizing the essence of a city requires understanding its topography, its natural biodiversity and its water resources; these features are what we call the “skeleton” of a city. Inside this context, water plays a critical role during the urban planning process. After all, life without water is not possible and every city in the world is settled next to a water resource.
After recognizing the skeleton of a city, we will be able to propose a design that can rescue and revitalize the ecological heritage of a particular place. In Caracas we proposed a network of lineal parks and public spaces alongside the water resources that would constitute the city’s Ecological Corridors of Mobility. Pedestrians, bikes and public transportation will then have an unquestionable priority above the private car.
If we could bring the covered creeks back to the surface and transform them into Ecological Corridors of Mobility, the time-space relationships that the citizens now have could drastically change. By creating lineal parks that relate the Ávila Mountain with the Guaire river, what is now a chaotic and confusing connection could become an enjoyable bike ride or a very pleasent walk.
This strategy was essential in the proposal we submitted for a Metropolitan Park in La Carlota (a competition held by the mayor of Caracas and the Metropolitan Institute of Urbanism in 2012), for we wanted to stitch a disconnected city and also recreate the original biodiversity of the valley. We believe that the Ecological Corridors of Mobility are an extraordinary opportunity to solve many of Caracas problems in terms of walkability, urban continuity and ecological preservation; and it would also contribute to keeping Venezuela among the top 10 countries with the highest biological diversity in the world (and the sixth in The Americas).
In our proposal, the Ecological Corridors of Mobility can be recognized as park networks, where public space allows the preservation of the flora and fauna that have lost its place with ever-growing urban development. But above all, they constitute an opportunity to rescue the ecological heritage of a particular place, the water landscape of a city, and the creation of public spaces for mobility, recreation and education. The transformation of water resources into Ecological Corridors is an opportunity to restore the original relationships that once existed between the natural elements of a specific ecosystem; but it also translates into a more enjoyable and walkable city for its inhabitants.