07 Apr 2017
Transforming the “Misery Towns” of Buenos AiresTopics:
Photo by Walter Carrera/GCBA
When economist Horacio Rodríguez Larreta (MBA 1993) was elected mayor of Argentina’s capital in 2015, he promised to address conditions in the city’s slums, which house about a quarter million of the city’s 3 million people.
A recent article in the Financial Times details how Rodríguez Larreta is making good on those promises, following the mayor on a walk through one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, Villa 31, and discussing his vision for the area’s future.
That vision includes a broad physical rethinking:
His overarching plan is to create a “polycentric” city with areas for living, working, learning and leisure evenly disbursed around the capital, in order to relieve pressures on the traditional city centre. Mr. Rodríguez Larreta has made what he calls a “major commitment” to upgrading public spaces, such as revamping parks and creating pedestrianised streets. …
As for Villa 31, it is sliced in two by a dual carriageway that is the main route into the city centre from the north. “It’s madness, you cannot have a neighbourhood with a motorway running right through,” he says. He whips out his smartphone to use Google Maps to illustrate his plans to divert the motorway around the edge of the slum. “Instead we will build a great park,” he enthuses, comparing the idea with the High Line in Manhattan, the linear park built on an elevated section of disused railway.
The article notes that the success of Rodriguez Larreta’s plans for Villa 31 will likely define his term. But the mayor notes that early feedback from the electorate has been positive:
“At first people had difficulty believing that we were serious about doing this,” he says. “For years there were promises but nothing was ever done.” He believes now that the locals are taking notice. “Seeing is believing,” he intones soberly.
Class of MBA 1993, Section G