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In Ciudad del Este

Instructor: David Gouvernour

Students: Yanhao Chai, Selina Cheah, Hanyu Gao, Linda Ge, Tristan Grupp, Samuel Hausner-Levine, Yue Hu, Ruoxin Jia, Clara Lyle, David Nugroho, Jiamin Tan

Situated at a triple frontier border of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay, Ciudad del Este has become an important commercial and trading center, attracting visitors from across the borders and from the greater international region thanks to the diversity of products, competitive prices, and deregulated trade. However, the growth of the city has not been met with necessary planning or provisions and in turn, its urban form, mobility systems, and city services have evolved informally. As a result, it has become a hybrid city where the natural and the urbanized, the formal and the informal, the regulated economies and the contraband, national investments and the local interests, merge and compete.

The central commercial core of the city, called the Microcentro, overflows with activity and vitality and struggles with high levels of highly congestion, especially during the daytime. Meanwhile, while informal settlements at the outer fringe lack infrastructure, services, public spaces, and amenities, forcing most of their residents to commute to access better jobs and the services in the center city.

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Here the waterway acts as a cultural and ecological asset. Through the use of community gardens, an edge berm, and managed wetlands, this urban asset becomes a multiuse corridor that serves the greater community.
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The Paraguayan and Brazilian governments are jointly investing in the construction of a new bi-national bridge and a peripheral road on the cities on either side of the border, which is expected to have a major impact on city performance and urban growth. This new mobility system will help decongest the central core, by rerouting regional transit and will bring new development pressures to the southern tip of the city and its neighboring departmentos. Ciudad del Este envisions the new bridge as an opportunity to further position the city as a major trading, industrial and high-tech center of the country and the region.

This studio asked participants to foresee and maximize the benefits of this new bridge & ring road initiative, and to ponder possible unwanted effects or unexpected trends, in a holistic and multi-scaler approach. Participants were asked to foster spatial and performatives connections that would result in added value to the city.


These included:

• Merging the ecological aspects with the urban systems (crucial in such a special natural setting)

• Envisioning the urban changes that will be brought about as the new bridge and peripheral road are completed

• Improving living conditions in the informal settlements and planning for the emergence of new ones (acknowledging that informal urbanism is and will be an important driver of city making)

• Interconnecting macro-economic formal economies with the micro-informal commercial, manufacturing and service-oriented drivers,

• Positioning Ciudad del Este as a progressive/experimental city projected to the national and regional context without losing its unique cultural identify.


These topics were tested by simultaneously analyzing urban dynamics at a metropolitan scale while exploring them in detail at a site-specific scale through pilot projects, from which the public sector and the private sector, as well as the local communities, can derive future policies and implementable courses of action.

Here reveals the studio's before and after axon proposals for the future of EcoCorridors in Ruta.

EcoCorridors in Ruta 2_neighborhood garden rendering.jpg
This design integrates community agriculture, housing, local commerce, and water management into the same area to create a self-sustaining community that thrives through interdependence.
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