El espacio público en la suburbia como plataforma de integración urbana y social
“Working with urban topics in this time period is of utmost priority, and working with communities in suburbia presents an even greater challenge”. – Edwin D. Díaz Ramos, 2019.
Designer: Edwin D. Díaz Ramos
Thesis Committee Director (s): Arch. Andrés Mignucci
Thesis Committee Consultant (s): Arch. Manuel Bermúdez & Arch. María Luengo, Ph.D.
Location: Urb. Miraflores, Bayamón, Puerto Rico
Completion Date: May 2019
TOS [er]: Benny X. Candelaria Falcón
Posted: May 2022
About El espacio público en la suburbia como plataforma de integración urbana y social:
Puerto Rico experienced a substantial development boom during the latter half of the twentieth century. The shifting needs and priorities of the populace brought forth the construction of dozens of suburban housing developments, most of which continue to be inhabited today. However, these urban landscapes were vehicle oriented and lacked the accessible public spaces characteristic of healthy urban areas, leading to the underutilization of in between or transitional areas, thereby resulting in decay and abandonment.
As a solution to situations like this found across the island, Urb. Miraflores and Avenida los Dominicos are utilized as a case study to analyze the potential benefits of limiting automobile dependency and encouraging the regeneration of overlocked urban areas though the development of public spaces designed to bridge the gaps between the dispersed context of the area. It is expected that this project will exemplify the value of public spaces in the urban context, improve quality of life for its inhabitants and “… establish guidelines and strategies that serve as a model for the potential transformation of other suburban fabrics in the cities and municipalities of Puerto Rico.” (Díaz, E.).
[Keywords:public space, suburbia, urban fabric, new urbanism]
Developed as a master plan for Urb. Miraflores in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, mainly focused on the improvement of areas along Avenida Los Dominicos. The study proposes the development of new public spaces, green spaces, services, and infrastructure along the main roadway. To improve the spatial quality and functionality of the roadside areas, it is advised that lots adjacent to the avenue be reclassified to allow mixed uses, namely residential and commercial. New emergency infrastructure as well as secondary street connections are included as means of supporting the increased occupancy. Lastly, vehicular traffic is reduced in the main avenue as well as adjacent secondary streets to allow space for wider sidewalks and green spaces, establishing the area as pedestrian centered.
- Reclassify and restructure urban blocks to allow for densified mix occupation and convenient pedestrian travel.
- Reduce vehicle occupancy to dedicate more space to greenery and public activities and provide an enhanced pedestrian experience.
- Implement complimentary safety infrastructure to service the newly densified area.
The thesis aims to exemplify viable improvement methods for suburban developments in need of accessible public spaces and ease of transit. To achieve this, it proposes the creation of social and commercial spaces, located at walking distance.
- Create valuable public space in an urban area from previously underutilized or vacant space.
- Exemplify methods of reducing dependence on personal vehicles and encouraging pedestrian traffic in the suburban space.
- Utilize Avenida Los Dominicos and Urb. Miraflores as a case study for viable improvements for other suburban areas in Puerto Rico.
As a master plan for the redevelopment of suburban blocks adjacent to the existing main streets, it mainly employs general interventions and changes applicable to specific areas in the urban landscape. Among the base strategies is the core element of connection of key areas and features, such as public and institutional spaces though natural points of concentration, like main intersections.
- Create a network of public areas spaced no further than 500 meters form each other, making them accessible and simple to connect.
- Modify existing suburban blocks to include new streets and walkways, simplifying pedestrian travel.
- Increase vegetation and greenery in the area though the planting of trees on roadside and street corner planters.
- Densify buildings adjacent to the main avenue while also allowing additional space for pedestrian transit.
As master plan for suburban restructuring, only parameters and dimensions for exterior spaces are provided. These are categorized through their implementation along Avenida los Dominicos, which has been divided into segments A, B and C. Likewise, secondary tributary streets have been categorized as types D, E or F.
- Buildings (Front facades must align preserving urban wall)
- Sidewalks (Must be 24ft wide in segments A and C along the main avenue)
- Vegetation (One tree is to be planted every 20ft along both sides of the main street in segments A, B and C and on one side in secondary street types D, E and F)
- Lighting (One streetlight is to be installed every 20ft on both sides of segments A, B and C of the main avenue and one side of the secondary D, E and F types)
TOS [er] Reaction:
Currently, the abandoned and unutilized state of many of Puerto Rico’s public urban and suburban development only serves to exemplify the shortcomings of their antiquated design. As an aspiring architect, it is often apparent to me whenever I find myself as a pedestrian along suburban streets, yet this it is the only reality many Puerto Ricans have ever known, forcing them to become complaisant. That said, the effectiveness of arrangements like those proposed by E. Diaz around the globe make it clear that they are not only a viable solution, but a substantial improvement as well. With the presentation of clear and concise solutions to several of the typical problems brought about by suburban developments, I have no doubt that this approach could be used to substantially improve the quality of residents in Urb. Miraflores as in many other like it across the island. While this is surely not the first time these have been proposed, I hope that further study into their local use may eventually seed an effective urban overhaul for Puerto Rico, as well as the typical view of suburban spaces. Many have attempted to offer solutions to these problems, yet they often appear unrealistic, be it by lack of funds or the inability of changing the urban status quo.