Las Salinas represents a bold new approach to planning and design in Chile, where the transformation of a brownfield site becomes the catalyst for the urban and ecological regeneration of Viña del Mar.
Originally planned as the extension of the 19th century Valparaiso metropolis, the tree-lined boulevards and formal parks of Viña gave rise to its fame as the Garden City of Chile. Yet, in recent decades the city has struggled to maintain the quality of life it once nurtured. The lack of attention to the city’s ecological infrastructure has led to a decline of its urban forest canopy and degradation of the native habitat on hillsides and ravines. Poor planning practices have created a car-dominated culture that has degraded the quality of the public realm, while single-use and inward-focused developments have impacted the vitality of neighborhoods.
Our ambition was to rethink development practices in the city and to reveal the true potential of Las Salinas to redefine Viña’s trajectory. Transcending the physical boundaries of the site, this vision seeks to restore the local ecology and re-engage the community to its seafront and public spaces. Through the collective efforts of the community, client, and design team, the framework represents a shared vision to regenerate the vitality of the city.
New connections through the site engage hillside communities that have been historically cut-off from the coast. At the hilltop, a Community Center and public elevator draws in the Santa Inés residents. With a focus on disadvantaged youth, its program includes recreation, job training, a library and flexible public spaces. At the seafront, the Central Park is a civic gesture to the city and is framed by cultural and public uses that promote greater social integration.
Envisioned as a mixed-use, porous and sustainable neighborhood, compact city blocks with a fully accessible and vibrant public realm will reduce the city’s reliance on private transportation. Civic, cultural, residential, retail, office and educational uses underpin a holistic community. At the ground-level, a wide range of active uses provide a rich urban and pedestrian experience.
Looking to nature for inspiration and a sustainable vision for the future, in depth research of the Chilean coastal landscape informed the regenerative approach to the site’s landscape infrastructure and essential ecosystem services. This multi-layered approach to form and function supports the overall connectivity and resilience of site systems which in turn regulate stormwater, nutrients, carbon, microclimate, pollination and species dispersal.
We enhanced the hillside landscape and leveraged the built environment as a rich zone of ecological activity. Shifting away from the typically limited selection of species used in urban landscapes, Las Salinas will incorporate a native, diverse and structurally complex planting palette that carefully responds to the microclimate and habitats created by the proposed development. The restoration of the 19N Ravine provides the blueprint for the careful integration of natural systems in urban development.
A network of verdant and functional public spaces ties the neighborhood together. Parallel to Libertad Avenue, a Linear Park with a combination of playscapes and seating terraces draw the community to the public realm, while providing mid-block pedestrian connectivity from predominantly residential areas to the social heart of the neighborhood.
An unprecedented and ongoing engagement process energized the people of Viña around the opportunities for renewed life in the city. Over a series of “Urban Dialogues”, the design team, public officials and the community exchanged ideas and engaged in systemic thinking on how to improve the quality of life in Viña and its larger context. A shared commitment to create a legacy project emerged, creating the foundation for a visionary, resilient and sustainable framework for the evolution of the site and city as a whole.