Parque Micaela Bastidas

Barrio Puerto Madero, at the end of Calle Estados Unidos
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Submitted by: Brian Davis

This new park is the entrance to the Costenera Sur, a destination point for people from all over the city.

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Why It Works

If the presence of women is a good indicator of how user-friendly a public place is, what does the presence of throngs of beautiful, dark-haired women sunning themselves, watching their kids, and eating with friends indicate?

The Parque Micaela Bastidas is the new park in Puerto Madero- the newest Barrio in Buenos Aires. It is an old part of the city where the loading docks and port infrastructure formed the industrial heart of old Buenos Aires. This history lends the barrio its name: Puerto Madero (Wood Port). Today, the docks and storage areas for the port are located to the Northwest and Puerto Madero is being developed as a new neighborhood of residences, entertainment, commerce, and recreation. The old port area is important historically and economically due to its proximity to the heart of Buenos Aires. There is an ecological reserve located along the coast of the Rio de la Plata and the Parque Micaela Bastidas occupies the land between downtown Buenos Aires and the reserve. The ecological reserve is an important recreational and ecological zone within the city that has been saved from development and is used heavily for research, recreation, and as a habitat for wildlife.

The Parque Micaela Bastidas serves as the new entrance to the Costenera Sur, a destination point for people from all over the city. It compliments the activities of the ecological reserve well, creating a wealth of entertainment, play, and work possibilities. The Park is has several different children’s play areas with some original play equipment (such as a zipline and a rope web), an amphitheatre for festivals, some cafes and street vendors selling food, and as well as a strip of land along a popular walkway for artisans to set up tables and tents. The presence of street vendors and artisans is important not only as an amenity to the people in the park relaxing but they also provide work, a source of income for some in the city. In this Latin American country, opportunities for small enterprises and secondary incomes are very important to the people because stable jobs and social security are not as abundant as in western countries. Nearly every weekend, the park is full of families, beautiful young women dancing and sunning, and young men playing soccer or talking to the young women. Many people also use the Ecological Reserve as a place that is more tranquil.

What Makes Parque Micaela Bastidas a Great Place?

Parque Micaela Bastidas is located on the edge of the city but is easily accessible by bus and a short walk through the barrio Puerto Madero. There is parking for cars around the park but it is limited and often overrun by vendors and activities. Walking through the tree-lined pedestrian areas of Puerto Madero, you realize you have arrived at the park when you see the forest of plants, the variety of children’s play equipment and open spaces for playing- in short, all of the people. The center of the park is a high hill that houses a large maintenance building underneath. From this elevated position, most of the different features of the park (the café, the zip line, the forested area, the open, grassy areas) are visible. Also visible from this vantage point are heightened views of the surrounding city and the open sky above the Rio de la Plata.

The park gives a strong image as a civic and recreational center. The grand staircases and ramps ascending the central hill create identifiable images. The walls are free of graffiti and the plants are left free of vandalism. This is not true in many of the public spaces in Buenos Aires. The area is clean, full of families, children, young lovers, wandering tourists, and working class residents of La Boca. The vehicles that go along the streets are slowed to a crawl due to all of the people moving around.

The uses and activities are incredible in this park, especially given the larger context in which it is located. Many areas for strolling are provided in the surrounding Barrio, and the Costenera Sur Ecological Reserve provides myriad opportunities for informal recreation and enjoying the natural environment. The Park is located in the middle of these areas and its activities compliment the surrounding areas. Many of the areas are programmed (a café, an amphitheater, public bathrooms, unique children’s playgrounds, areas for artisans and vendors) and provide areas of intense, collective use. The children’s play areas have areas nearby where the parents can sit, keep watch over the kids and talk with one another. The only problem is, many times the parents are playing with the kids. The clustering of plants and trees also provides some more secluded places away from the picnicking groups of friends and families where people can sit in the sun, read and try to look sexy (a favorite pastime of Portenos).

The park and is a microcosm of the city. There are places where large groups are taking public dance classes, watching a show in the amphitheatre or playing a game of volleyball. There are many other places where families are watching children play, picnicking together, or strolling around. Smaller groups of people check out the artisan’s displays, eat, or gather their courage to join the dance classes. Single people also use the park- a homeless person for resting, a girl for reading, a guy for sunning (and meeting the single girls). In addition, the people using the space are constantly changing as some people stroll off into the ecological reserve or back into the city while new people are constantly arriving.

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