The backstage of Buenos Aires

The objective of this project is to revitalize the urban area along the Riachuelo River in Buenos Aires with a small-scale architectural intervention by triggering a positive chain reaction. To generate this chain reaction a start has to be made with addressing and improving the current situation of the Riachuelo environment and by reintegrating different social classes.
Buenos Aires has neglected the Riachuelo and its waterfront for many years. This river has become a toxic sewer whose waterfront is characterised by poverty and impoverishment. At the same time, for many of the poor in Buenos Aires, collecting and selling recyclable garbage is the only way to make a living. Originally a by-product of economic misery, these cartoneros have now become an integral part of Buenos Aires’ streetscapes. The invented programme is a recycling hub: an intertwined mixture of a recyclables collecting station and an information centre targeted at other Porteños (inhabitants of Buenos Aires). Here cartoneros sell recyclables that they collect, the materials then being transported to several recycling factories. In the information centre Porteños can experience the very valuable way cartoneros deal with waste products and learn how they themselves can contribute to a cleaner environment.
The building is conceived as a harbour crane, a robust building and a powerful gesture next to an old railway bridge connecting the two riverbanks. The hovering volume defines the collecting station underneath and houses the supporting programme for cartoneros and the information centre itself.

About Frank Reitsma