Coastal Landscape and Public Use. A Landscape Architecture Proposal for the Los Limites Beach, Chubut, Argentina
María Belén Bonaz, University of Buenos Aires
Diaz de Pineda et al. (1973) define landscape as the plurisensorial perception of an ecological relation system; in these terms, the landscape is generated by a sensorial appreciation of the place and the interaction between ecological and cultural features. As postulated by Nogué (2008), the landscape is the cultural effect of society on a given space, recognizable in two related dimensions: one physical, material and objective, and another perceptive, cultural and subjective.
Man acts on the natural landscape by intervening, modifying, and recomposing the place, materializing needs, aspirations, desires, and experiences. The result is a composition of a new appearance, an innovated landscape (Aponte Garcia, 2003). This cultural landscape reflects the society attitude to-wards the environment, as well as the attempts of man to adapt to the environment in order to improve his life condition. However, the man-land-scape relationship is not always harmonious neither balanced.
Svampa (2001) affirms that as a consequence of the application of development models based on economic globalization that have been carried out since the Nineties in Argentina, this country is tackling a deep transformation of socio-spatial patterns that entails significant changes in the urban scene. The author mentions that this transformation results in consequences like the increase of social inequality and social exclusion. This ‘social rupture’ phenomenon is materialized in an ‘urban fracture’ due to the development of ‘locked’ residential areas, such as gated communities and country clubs.
Perahia and Vidal Koppmann (2010) highlight some common characteristics of these urban developments, namely their isolated features and the related fact of being far away from the major urban centres and thus accessible only by highways, routes, and private transport. These urban developments generate high costs of transportation and promote a higher energy and non-renewable resource consumption. Consequences of this type of urban developments are detrimental to life quality of inhabitants, resulting in an even worse scenario in coastal environments, which are the most sensitive areas to human disturbance (Scalise and Schanck, 2007).Researches on this topic carried out by the University of Buenos Aires show how the new residential areas consisting of ‘closed typologies’ situated in urban peripheries, such as gated neighborhoods and country clubs, caused a rapid modification of the territorial footprint, generating a substantial change in spatial patterns and landscapes (Vidal Koppmann, 2005).
By appealing to exceptions in the existing zoning regulations, in several coastal cities of the country, gated communities are built inside beaches and natural resource areas, without the consensus of the community. The advance of private actors and their real estate business is not consistent, in most cases, with the strategic plans and zoning by municipalities, demanding the creation of a con-sensual urbanism to solve these critical situations. This privatization of natural resources to generate suburban low-density and fragmented areas (both a social and spatial fragmentation) is disintegrating the coastal landscape (Vidal Koppmann, 2015).
Biodiversity is strongly affected and the public access to the coast is blocked.As postulated by Codignotto (2000), in the Patagonian coast, territorial policies have paved the way to private urbanization to advance over beach areas, promoting the privatization of public resources and the vulnerability of their landscape. In recent population censuses the number of inhabitants in the town closest to the study area (i.e. Los LímitesBeach, see hereafter), namely Rada Tilly, has roughly doubled its number.
On the La Herradura Beach, situated at 9 km from the city of Rada Tilly, near Los Límites Beach, the construction of a gated community (gated neighborhood) known as ‘Country Club La Herradura’, was carried out. This urban development does not take into account the local coastal dynamics and directly affects the functioning of the natural ecosystem. The most visible changes are related to the constructions of buildings and roads that affected the configuration of the coastline by increasing beach’s erosion during sea storms. In 2011 several houses in the neighborhood were affected by a storm, however this event did not prevent the sale of land on the next vacant beach, Los límites Beach, that is our case study.
This is the last untouched beach in the region, an important habitat for sever-al species. Intervening in this area is important not only to preserve a significative biodiversity hotspot, but also in order to rebuild the link between the present-day society with the landscape, a link that is currently lost (Aponte Garcia 2003). A landscape project that considers both the natural existing matrix and the socio-cultural features is therefore needed. A landscape proposal in this area grants the possibility to preserve the natural landscape while promoting public use, so its consequent enhancement and protection. The specific objectives of the landscape projectfor the coastline area of Los Límites Beach here presented are: (i) to characterize the coastal landscape in the study area, (ii) to iden-tify the admitted public uses, (iii) to strengthen the cultural identity of this coastal landscape.
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