Zumtobel Group award nominees in focus: PRES Constitución Consortium
Forestation to combat tsunamis
In May, five shortlisted candidates were announced for the Urban Developments & Initiatives category of the Zumtobel Group Awards, which is sponsored by Thorn Lighting. In the running is PRES Constitución Consortium, a project to regenerate the Chilean city of Constitución, which was almost completely destroyed by a tsunami in 2010.
To help rebuild the city, Santiago-based infrastructure and urban design specialist Elemental was tasked with creating a sustainable reconstruction master plan. As well as rebuilding the urban environment, Elemental needed a strategy for protecting the city against earthquakes and tsunamis in the future.
As a first step, Elemental began a series of consultations with local people, giving them ownership of the reconstruction process. This helped to inform the reconstruction master plan, as well as empower residents to put pressure on the local authorities to speed up reconstruction efforts.
To protect the city against future tsunamis, Elemental proposed that a new forest should be planted along the city's riverfront. This decision was based on scientific research as well as empirical evidence: a forest to the north of Constitución reduced the size of the tsunami waves from 12 meters to just six.
While the benefits for protecting the city were clear, gaining permission to actually plant the new forest was a major challenge for Elemental as it required private land to be appropriated by the government. However, the public vote went Elemental's way and the plans for the new forest got the go-ahead.
As well as protecting the city from future tsunamis, and minimising the negative impact of the annual rainy season on the city, the proposed riverfront forest will greatly improve the quality of life for residents of Constitución. Where privately owned properties previously restricted access to the river, all the city's inhabitants can now enjoy the natural environment on their doorstep.
The winning project will be announced at the Zumtobel Group Award press conference in London on September 22nd. For more information, visit www.zumtobel-group-award.com/en/957.asp.
There is also a video of this project available to view on Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/54537287.
Elemental, Santiago de Chile