Jane’s Walk Buenos Aires 2015

///Jane’s Walk Buenos Aires 2015
Jane’s Walk Buenos Aires 2015 2017-12-01T06:17:41+00:00

May 2015

Walk Leader: Carolina Huffman

Text by: Carolina Huffman

A diferencia de años anteriores, este año el modo en el que surgió la idea de la caminata fue muy particular. Estábamos en Urbanismo I, materia de la carrera de Arquitectura en la Universidad de Palermo donde doy clase, estudiando diferentes autores y bibliografias con importantes legados sobre ciudades y ninguno de los estudiantes sabia quien era Jane Jacobs (pero si conocían a LeCorbusier, obviamente). Decidimos con el jefe de cátedra, Guillermo Tella, en conjunto con la universidad, organizar la caminata anual de Jane Jacobs especialmente para lo estudiantes de arquitectura, la caminata igualmente era abierta para quien quisiese venir. Era muy motivador pensar que íbamos a hablar de Jane Jacobs con tantos jóvenes interesados en hacer una diferencia en la ciudad pero que sin embargo nunca habían escuchado hablar de ella.

El recorrido que habíamos armado tenia cuatro paradas en diferentes tipos de espacios públicos, plazas, plazas pocket, plazoleta, etc. Hubo uno en particular, una plaza pocket entre medianeras, la cual se ubica en una zona muy vital, repleta de comercios y residencias de alta densidad, siempre esta lleno de gente y de día es muy linda, por eso decidimos detenernos en ella. Cuando llegamos a la noche, estaba sin luz, muy oscuro y solo tres hombres dentro. Nadie se animó a entrar, lo cual fue una pena al principio. Sin embargo, nos permitió observar lo que ocurría en esa situación urbana a pesar de su entorno y aprovechamos para hablar de la seguridad en las calles que nos enseño Jane Jacobs, “calles con gente, son calles seguras”. Fue muy interesante ver las reacciones, propuestas y discusiones de los estudiantes, frustrados ante la imposibilidad de poder usar ese espacio por estar encerrado en si mismo con una reja, en oscuridad y “apropiado” por la posible violencia urbana en vez de por los vecinos y la misma vida urbana que habia alrededor.

Como la caminata estaba organizada con estudiantes dentro de una materia de urbanismo les pedimos que presenten un trabajo de observación y reflexión sobre la caminata. Muchos desarrollaron a partir de fotografías o videos sobre las diferencias entre los barrios visitados, sobre el uso del espacio publico y sobre las diferentes combinaciones de densidades, usos y desarrollo urbano. La idea de llegar a estudiantes con este mensaje de Jane Jacobs no solo había marcado la mirada sobre la ciudad que habíamos caminado, sino también la comprensión de que la ciudad nos hace a sus habitantes tanto como nosotros a ella.

 

Unlike in previous years, this walk was thought up under very specific circumstances. We were enrolled in Urbanism 1, a course for architecture students at the University of Palermo where I teach. My students were assigned to study various important authors who wrote about cities and their biographical texts. None of them knew who Jane Jacobs was. That’s when we decided that the university, along with the program chair Guillermo Tella, would organize our annual Jane’s Walk in a way that was tailored to this class of architecture students and also welcomed anyone else who wanted to join. It was very motivating to think that we would be speaking about Jane Jacobs with so many young people who are interested in making a difference in their city.

The walk we planned consisted of four different stops in various public spaces, including large marketplaces and smaller market squares. One stop, a small market square enclosed by a fence, was located in a very lively area full of businesses and large, residential buildings. Since it’s always full of people and very beautiful during the day, we decided to that it would be a good place to stop for a minute on the walk.

But on our actual walk, we arrived at the square after nightfall. There were no lights and it was very dark. There were only three men standing inside. Nobody wanted to go in, which was a little embarrassing at first. However, it gave us an opportunity to observe what happens in these urban situations, and we had a discussion about Jane Jacobs’ ideas about street safety. Busy streets are safe streets, she said. It was very interesting being able to hear the students’ reactions, suggestions, and discussions. They were frustrated by the fact that this space was trapped by its enclosure, the imminent darkness, and overtaken by the possibility of urban violence instead of by its neighbours. Since the walk was organized for students learning about urbanism, we asked them to observe and reflect on the site the next day. Many brought photos and videos that highlighted the differences between the neighbourhoods we visited, explored the uses of public space, and touched on different combinations of density and urban development.

One student in particular, Franco Caruso, noted:

“During our Jane’s Walk in Buenos Aires, it was easy to see the concept of diversity that is always present in urbanization. The idea that our city isn’t just built, but created by those who inhabit it, led me to the concept of an ‘urban being’ who is visibly affected by and conforms to what their city offers them. City life is strongly anchored by walking and the feelings that arise when we see our spaces being utilized in certain ways. During our walk, we saw how the urban being interacts with their environment, and also simultaneously with many other urban beings who may not be walking through the city in the same way. Together and in density, they form a synchronized dance of pedestrians on the street, similar to the way blood travels through veins, that feeds the heart of the cities Jacobs describes as being ‘alive.’”

The class got quiet and there was a mixture of pride and emotion in the air. Having imparted Jane’s message to these students meant that not only had we reached our goal with the walk, but also that they understood how the city shapes us, her inhabitants, just as much as we create her. The seed of Jane’s teachings had taken root.