Conceptual and metodological proposal for the analysis, design and planification for urban landscape sustainability in half mountain Andes cities: experimentation in Manizales, Colombia

Author: Adriana Gomez Alzate. June 2010

Directors: Luz Stella Velásquez Barrero and Xavier Álvarez del Castillo
Department: Càtedra Unesco de Sostenibilitat
Date: 10 June 2010

The city is faced, each time in a more urgent way, to aboard the contemporary tendency of think and act on it in the horizon of the sustainability paradigm, fully understood not only under environmental, economic and social parameters, but also structural, morphological and landscape. To analyze the environmental urban quality of the landscape, under sustainability criteria, is to understand the landscape as a special-temporary fragment that includes, in a systematic way, the geographical context, and the open spots in the city, the color, the light and the environmental graphics. While the discourse about the landscape is presented today with strength in the urban planning of large cities, due to the tendency that exists of always improving the quality of the public spaces both in constructed areas as in free perimeter, this topic has not been provided with sufficient strength in Latin American cities due to the primary emergency of solving the basic needs problem of the population. However, as demonstrated in this thesis, there is now a tendency to promote the culture of the city in its outline, its history and in the innovation and its conservation, to reinforce its identity with actions that make an integration in sustainability criteria, as an indispensable option that makes possible the improvement of the life quality and the social and environmental capital. The functional, psychological and static aspects of the landscape can be studied in an integral way and is essential to find solutions that are open to change the destructive path that has characterized it on the last years the urban actions on the landscape, most of all in Latin American cities, where there’s a lack of protective mechanism and necessary management for its appropriate development and conservation, have suffered the deterioration of the landscape in a absence of a regulation of the informal culture and due to the abuse of mercantilist interest of the big firms. The thesis brings up, parting on the conceptual definition of a general urban environment as a system, three phases of the study that constitute the methodological proposal of visual analysis: Description phase / Interpretation phase / Evaluative phase. Each phase is studied in the landscape as a visual holistic system and in an urban emptiness as a visual generator system. This focus of the proposul integrates two tendencies in the landscape studies: A systematic vision in a geographical scale and the analysis of the urban configuration, which makes possible a methodological approach of visual analysis in the landscape and the urban emptiness that being seen in a sequential scale of the pedestrian, integrates the particular and the general for indentifying its intervention possibilities and interaction urban sustainability in different acting fields. This thesis raises two possible scenes for the decision-making that involves the actions and measurements for the improvement of the landscape quality and its urban sustainability in middle mountain Andes cities: the first one refers to the process of urban design for the sustainable development of the landscape, that begins from the determination of the landscape as an environmental, cultural and productive patrimony, which makes possible not only its conservation, but also its enjoyment and citizen use. The second, its relative to the definition of the strategies for the urban sustainability of the landscape and proposes, from the communication for the citizen education, actions that involves a visual education to the community, as an strategy that lets the recognition of citizen rights and duties. The application of the methodology analysis it’s made in Manizales, half mountain Andes city, with the objective of verifying its possibilities for the design and planning of the analyzed aspects in the structural axis of the city. The methodology analysis that is proposed offers design tools for the local eco-efficient interventions that, together with the time and space, it can be transformed in global as a natural acting alternative and as a urban sustainability strategy of the landscape that makes possible to improve its environmental quality, maintain an stability in its urban metabolism and to improve the life quality in the city. For an advance towards an urban sustainability, the landscape should be consider as an environmental, cultural and productive patrimony, as an infinite source of knowledge in constant transformation that should be conserved and act holistically to make a proper interaction with the social groups that live among it.

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