We propose to weave the surrounding communities with the Pachacamac Park by “growing” four ecologies in its grounds. Each is present in the past and current landscape of this archaeological monument, and each would serve a specific function towards protecting it: the alluvial valley, the desert, the wetland and the dry forest. Four ecologies arranged in three border-bands and one zone, inspired by the four stratifications that construct the cultural history of this magnificent ceremonial precinct. Four ecologies that echo the four city walls which layered the cellular growth of this sacred node within the continental network of the Quapac Ñan: one of many exchange webs trodden by pre-Columbian inhabitants, whose trade and inter-cultural routes achieved a Pan-American scale. Landscape formation was central to urban planning in pre-Columbian times. The urban ecology that sustained Pachacamac when the Spaniards came across it in the XVI Century is reborn as an urban ecology designed to protect it in the XXI.
Protection, a system of four ecologies
The Pachacamac Park Competition poses unique challenges to design thinking. The grounds of an archaeological sanctuary of prime importance to Peruvian and Latin American pre-Columbian history, once isolated from the modern capital, Lima, now faces the threat of urban expansion as the city pushes southwards. The open grounds of the intangible zone located north of the Pan-American high-way are subject to recurrent attempts at illegal colonization, harbor garbage at its perimeter, and are often traversed by impatient motorized vehicles which chose to avoid Avenida Lima´s traffic by cutting through the Pachacamac precinct. The need to address the border condition in order to protect the ancient treasure buried below ground and signaled by the gateway and remnants of the third muralla (city wall), calls for the development of a buffer zone.
The first temptation is to green the whole area, inspired by the lushness of the Lurín delta nearby. Yet, the prerequisite for green is blue, and humidity could jeopardize the integrity of archaeological vestiges buried below. The second temptation is to imagine a dry forest growing in the void. Roots, nevertheless, pose an additional threat to the conservation of past remnants, whose very existence we owe to the dryness and almost complete baldness of the Peruvian coast. Therefore, in order not just to buffer urban expansion, but to weave city and park in a new spatial agreement, we propose to “grow” four ecologies and use their structure to assemble disaggregated elements in the landscape and to protect the Sanctuary.
A visit to the villas located in the northern perimeter of the intangible zone was revealing and decanted in the first ecology: a green linear park or band punctuated with community gardens, orchards, playgrounds, viewing platforms, trails, and open-ended, trellised modules that can adapt to different activities for diverse groups, ages, and genders. These modules, inspired by the ramadas of Lima (covered by colorful vegetation, caña or canvas), can be easily dismantled and reused. Like all other elements introduced into the landscape (decks, trails, viewing platforms, etc.) they are removable and reversible. When observed from below, one would expect the roads and voids of the villas above to be as dusty and dry as the Pampa de Atocongo (northern sector).
Surprisingly, many streets are tree-lined (shadow is an absolute requisite for social life in Lima) and the urban grid is marked by well-defined, lush, lively parks. Even more surprisingly, vecinos (neighbors), particularly women, are cultivating gardens with medicinal plants, vegetables and fruit trees. The community is already greening the band between the edge of their houses and the park by reusing waste water for irrigation. The Sanctuary itself counts with an active community garden which promotes the use of local species.
The green band of the future border would blend into a green network of parks and tree-lined streets as the lushness of the Lurín Valley penetrates the urban fabric. This band would gradate into a dry forest strip towards the interior of the intangible zone. Along this band, the vegetation would be low and characterized by shallow root systems. At the core of the Pampa de Atocongo we would preserve a desert ecology, whose beauty can be enhanced by stewarding the proliferation of rootless flowers or air plants such as the tillandsia, which do not endanger the patrimony we need to preserve. In the interior of the Monumental Section, located southwards from the Pan-American high-way, we restore –as proposed by the brief- the ecology of the Urpiwachaq lake. This can be achieved by enacting the project proposed by Canziani and his team, whose lineaments are well-researched and grounded. As a result, the Pachacamac Park is re-structured by four ecologies: a green extension of the Lurín valley, the restoration of a receding wetland, a buffer band of dry forest towards the interior of the perimeter, and a desert core at the heart of the park. Overall, all elements in the park, at all scales, are derived from the context of Pachacamac and the stratified nature of its now archaeological condition. Its local materials and inspirations decant in a park which is easy to maintain, renovate and operate.
The environmental strategy draws from our site analysis. During our visit to the villas located in the northern perimeter of the Sanctuary, we found drains that the neighbors already use to irrigate their domestic crops. The water could potentially be contaminated, so we propose to develop an open irrigation canal and mineral filtering system, inspired in the ancestral water management infrastructures visible in the monumental zone, and to move it through drip irrigation from the uppermost slope to the lower regions of the “green band.” A series of cisterns can be buried in a high park which has yet to be designed amidst the villa.
The neighbors practice several efficient and feasible methods to fertilize the soil and create humus: vermicomposting, organic waste use, and incorporation of guinea pigs (within “corral-gardens”) whose feces contain high levels of phosphorous, nitrogen and carbon.
Vegetation, Associated Fauna and Agro-ecology
The project includes nurseries that may serve to recover endemic and local species (vegetables, fruits, medicinal, herbal, for construction/artisanal use, etc.) well-adapted to the local climate and physical conditions of Pachacamac. The vegetation would be used to colonize the streets and green spaces of surrounding villas and to enhance community gardens and orchards. Through the management plan, we propose to introduce training workshops and courses on agro-ecological topics such as organic control of pests, humus production, and polyculture.
Wind and Dust
The provision of lateral wind screens is critical in this area. We propose to incorporate caña (local bamboo), vegetation and canvas lateral surfaces into the multi-use modules and to interpret wind as an opportunity for music through the use of flute-like and dynamic elements that would vibrate through sound to the wind.
Energy and Public lighting
Our energy strategy is simple and feasible: we propose to use public light fixtures that incorporate photovoltaic panels into them in order to avoid obtrusive cables in the park, reduce operation costs, and reduce the carbon footprint of the park.
Tambo system – Yakutambos (Environmental/Ecological stations), Yachaytambos (Cultural/Educational stations), Tecnotambos (Technology stations)
Multiple-use, adaptive, and reversible tambos – Crafts, ecological market; culinary axis; exhibition pavilion; administrative; ludic; leisure; training; basic health;
Quipu deportivo – Inca challenge (and other temporary, low-impact events in the park)
Educational murals to be designed with community (inspired in historic cultures)
Public plant nursery
Temporary events in the indeterminate area of the Pachacamac Park
Within the desert core, the monumental remnant of the Third Wall plays a central role, as it marks not only the edge of the ancient ceremonial site, but also its link to the larger monumental network of Inca roads which interlaced the Andean region from Southern Colombia to Northern Chile, and towards the Amazonian interior in the East: the Quapac Ñan. We propose to mark its ancient pathway through the introduction of an unobtrusive zahorra, an earth based pavement that can be slightly colored to differentiate it from the original surface and avoid false replicas. We have also delineated a system of pathways which we have named Chasqui trails, throughout the park. These routes, both pedestrian and for individual/collective bikes or buses/electric trams, link to the trail system of the monumental area. In order to stitch the Northern and Southern parts of the park, we have designed an underpass for the Pan-American high-way, linking the MUNA and the Interpretation Center. The underpass recovers the brutalist architectural language of the latter and can be redesigned to reveal potential archaeological vestiges that most probably will surface during excavation. In order to stitch the Western and Eastern sectors of the park, we propose a simple surface strategy of well-designed zebra crossings inspired in local geometries and linked to street lights. In the long-term, the administrators of Pachacamac may want to consider introducing a system of solar-buses or a solar electric tram to move visitors and workers around while reducing the impact of circulation on the ground.
Villas Maximum Height
Physical barriers to vertical growth have proven inefficient in informal mantels of Latin American cities. Fiscal policies seem to have had a greater impact. The “rebars of hope,” for example, are in many cases left visible because an “incomplete house” pays less taxes than a complete or complete-looking one. A fiscal scheme needs to be developed for Pachacamac that punishes growth beyond the desired one. For the municipality to enforce fiscal policy, an up-dated a precise cadaster would be needed.
The landscape in time - Phasing
The project understands the landscape from the perspective of territorial (natural, patrimonial, cultural and social) resource management. It is conceived dynamically as a resilient and reversible intervention which consolidates over time, as it responds to the pulse of institutions, communities and natural growth. The proposal harmonizes the complex relationship between the different systems it addresses, and the scales of transformation in which they occur, with the objective of guaranteeing the consolidation of four urban ecologies, sustainable management of resources (water and energy), mobility articulation, tangible and intangible heritage management, and local communities´ inclusion.