The Future of Oil Boom Towns in Ecuadorian Amazonia
Geographers estimate that circa 80% of urbanization in Amazonia is peri-urban in nature. Since the urban frontier in the region is one of the fastest growing in the world, this condition calls for innovative approaches to address the future of Amazonian urbanization at multiple scales, from the regional to the architectural, paying particular attention to urban-rural linkages. At the regional scale, this studio proposes to recast Shushufindi, a highly contaminated and active oil boom town in Ecuadorian Amazonia, as a node for industrial, creative ecology where value can be added to renewable and community-managed, culturally significant, forest products harvested from agro and biodiverse polycultures. A new nodal economy of this sort could contribute to spearhead processes of productive forest resurgence in fallow areas along existing highway corridors. At the municipal scale, students will contribute to reactivate the voids of the intra-urban oil infrastructure network as a system of green public spaces (agroecological acupuncture) that may serve as support for new collective and mixed-use housing projects that incorporate the polycultural orchard system of Amazonians (chakra in Kichwa) into its scheme. This process will demand (bio)remediation of oil contaminated soil, water and air. The Municipality of Shushufindi and members of the First Nations of Ecuador will be active partners in this studio. We will also collaborate with students and faculty from FADA-PUCE. This studio is highly multidisciplinary and research based. It welcomes students from the fields of urban design, urban planning, landscape architecture, and architecture.