24th January 2014
Michael Collins, Oliver Chapman Architects & ESALA
in collaboration with Murua Valenzeula Arquitectos
Emerging Practice: Regenerating Valparaiso Chile
Valparaiso emerged as a wealthy settlement in the late 19th and 20th Century, owing to its location as a trading base between the Magellan Strait and the Pacific. Its urban form and character is testament to both rapid growth, and its dramatic ‘amphitheater’ setting. The city suffered urban decline and depopulation after the construction of the Panama Canal. By 2002 much of the city was derelict with many buildings within the historic core abandoned. In the years since the city’s declaration as a UNESCO world heritage site, Valparaiso has witnessed a large amount of inward investment and urban improvement. However this has also had a negative effect on existing communities, many unable to engage with the current planning structure, arguably fuelling the sprawl of informal developments on the city’s fringe. In the context of an increasingly young profession in Chile, this talk will focus on emerging ‘bottom up’ architect led approaches in Valparaiso in response. These groups use architecture, as well as other forms of non traditional ‘spatial agency’ both as agent provocateurs and in collaboration with local communities to regenerate both the physical and social fabric of the city as well as more intangible aspects of local heritage.
Originally from Belfast, Michael Collins Studied at Edinburgh College of Art and ETSAB Barcelona. His research interests include; critical theories surrounding urban agriculture, and emerging practices in Latin American urbanism. Michael has worked in practice in Leeds, Melbourne, Santiago Chile and is currently Associate and Lead Project Architect at Oliver Chapman Architects.