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ARQ (Santiago)

versión On-line ISSN 0717-6996

ARQ (Santiago)  no.92 Santiago abr. 2016 


Paseo Cívico Metropolitano
Redesign for the new Alameda-Providencia Axis
Santiago, Chile, 2015 - 2018


Alejandra Bosch *(1), Arturo Lyon *(2), Danilo Martic *(3), Clara Oloriz **(4), Alfredo Ramírez **(5)

* Professor, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.
** Architect, GroundLab, Londres, Reino Unido.


Not every day a competition to redesign a metropolis’s main axis is opened. The awarded entry for the New Alameda Providencia contest, organized by the Regional Metropolitan Government of Santiago, not only seeks to renew the most emblematic avenue in the Chilean capital, but also to transform it into an exceptional urban experience in which public space, rather than competing with the various transport systems, is the one that defines and reorders them.

Keywords: public space, mobility, transportation, pedestrian, monuments.

Proposed public transport stop

Proposal for Plaza Baquedano

Proposal for Tobalaba subway station

Proposal for Estación Central

The Bernardo O’Higgins Avenue (Alameda) and the twin avenues Providencia and Nueva Providencia compose Santiago’s main civic and transport axis, concentrating more than one hundred pubic bus routes and some of the most remarkable monuments, public buildings and institutions in the country. Moreover, it comprises a civic history initiated in the Alameda de las Delicias, conceived by O’Higgins in the 19th century as a space with a public character. Nowadays it has also become the main metropolitan setting for demonstrations, celebrations and cultural events of wide scope and great impact.

During the last century the Alameda-Providencia axis has undergone multiple interventions aimed to improve transport efficiency which, among other causes, have progressively deteriorated the quality of public space, reducing the axis to its transit functions instead of a place of recreation and gathering.

The project Nueva Alameda Providencia, called upon by the Regional Metropolitan Government of Santiago, poses the transformation of this historic, civic and transport axis as the fundamental question. This request goes beyond a simple call for ideas, as it is expected to be one of the largest urban projects realized in Chile.

The initiative was born of the need to implement a new corridor for BRT buses (Bus Rapid Transit) that seeks to reduce travel time for the 2 million people along a 12km-long route between Pajaritos and Tobalaba. The relevance of the axis led to look beyond the technical problem, generating a unique opportunity to improve the quality of Santiago’s main public space. Ministries of Transport, Public Works and Housing have been involved throughout the development of the project, along with the municipalities of Lo Prado, Estación Central, Santiago and Providencia, and also multiple institutions and citizen organizations.

Proposal for Providencia Avenue

Diagram of proposed water drains

Paseo Cívico Metropolitano offers a design that articulates the requirements of an efficient transport system while generating a fundamental space for civic life in Santiago, recalling the original character of the Alameda de las Delicias conceived by O’Higgins. Thus the project is based on the historic, infrastructural, landscape and architectural reconstruction of the axis. This reconstruction, however, is not based on its original image but alludes instead to a quality of public space, a microclimate that adapts to Santiago’s weather conditions, a unitary axis that runs through different communes and, mainly, a hydraulic infrastructure for the management and maintenance of the avenue that allows the consolidation of great lines of trees.

The design strategy is based on the reorganization of transit flows according to their speeds, encouraging non-motorized and public transport over private cars and allowing the clearance of large pedestrian surfaces with the purpose of generating quality public space along the axis. Two opposite but complementary environments characterize this public space: on the one hand a green avenue is proposed, with trees generating the shade that the semi-arid climate of Santiago requires. On the other hand, we propose clearing wide areas aimed to reveal places of interest, monuments and historical buildings that characterize this urban axis. Transport flows, trees and water drainage are organized in each section of the corridor according to the context, aiming for an ease in movement and a consolidation of public space along the corridor. The continuous pedestrian walkway is extended as a shared surface adjacent to the private vehicles, encouraging the latter to reduce their speed and expanding the perception of pedestrian zones. In this shared surface a continuous cycle path is also considered, contributing to the users comfort and security together with an efficient and uninterrupted movement.

Proposal for Alameda in front of the National Library


The original Alameda de las Delicias is the model for the project’s hydraulic infrastructure: a promenade framed by trees and supported by canals derived from the Mapocho River. This simple but elegant solution of green infrastructure generated a fresh, clean and comforting environment, ideal for the enjoyment of public space in Santiago. The contemporary reinterpretation of the canals was developed under the concept of Urban Sustainable Drainage (DUS). This drainage consists of the gathering, filtration, treatment, recycling and redistribution of water cycle, regaining permeable soil along the corridor and enabling the healthy growth of the trees. At the same time, monuments, significant buildings and remarkable places are identified and characterized by fountains and water playgrounds.


Lines: the proposal considers the planting of 6,000 new trees on the 12 km length of the Alameda-Providencia axis, which would complement current tree lines available in some areas of Providencia or on Alameda between Ahumada and Ricardo Cumming. Given its shade, size and resistance we propose the introduction of American Oak (Quercus falcata) to strengthen current lines. The Quercus falcate is a species traditionally found in the Chilean landscape, where it’s extensively used without being invasive.

Groups: we propose the introduction of Chilean Palm groups as a way of defining and emphasising a series of significant places along the axis, which are identifies based on its civic history or its proximity to monuments or emblematic buildings. The Chilean Palm (Jubaea chilensis) is in itself a monument, a feature that will accentuate places by a clearing of space that allows for heritage appreciation.


The high transport demand for the brt Alameda-Providencia requires the use of long stations for extravehicular payment (EPEV). We rejected the idea of adopting iconic bus stops as currently used by Transantiago, since they produce unnecessary visual contamination in public space without contributing to the citizen’s experience. As an alternative, we propose the use of long shades, retrieving a traditional element of central Chilean vernacular landscape, as a simple and effective way to attain protection and shade in a generally hot climate. The stations would be placed under these shades, considering controlled access, ramps, embarking platforms, signs, information screens and transparent borders.

Catalog of crossings and bus stops

Complete proposal.


Street section type 1

Street section type 2

Street section type 3

Street section type 4

Street section type 5


The proposal reorganizes traffic flow and concentrates on Nueva Providencia Avenue the public buses corridor in both directions. This configuration is achieved by using the space currently assigned to taxis and collective taxis stop, which will be relocated in side streets close to Nueva Providencia. A low-speed access lane for taxis and cars will also be established. On the other hand, a west-way for private vehicles is considered on Providencia Avenue, maintaining fluid access to underground parking located in the sector. At the same time, a two-way bike path and wide tree-lined sidewalks are proposed, enhancing the commercial and recreational character of this area.


Given the confluence of subway lines 1 and 4 and the presence of large commercial buildings, we propose to expand public space, covering the segment of San Carlos canal between Apoquindo avenue and Vitacura avenue to generate a plaza that signals the beginning of the Paseo cívico metropolitano. A large shared area that will contain wide sidewalks, bike paths and green areas, allowing the flow and lowering of vehicle speed in the area.

Plaza Baquedano

We propose a broad public area to support daily and massive uses, defined by a continuous ground connecting three major parks in Santiago that today don’t have pedestrian continuity: Forestal park, Bustamante park and Balmaceda park. This ground will smooth high pedestrian flow in the sector while retaining its characteristic urban void, which allows the appreciation of Santiago’s geographic and heritage landmarks as the San Cristobal hill, the Universidad de Chile Law School building and the Andes. For massive civic events, its use will be transformed by expanding pedestrian areas to the entire esplanade, thus defining a secure and resistant space. At the same time, this place constitutes the core of Santiago’s transport system, where subway lines 1 and 5 converge along with multiple public bus routes. The proposed solution avoids the construction of an underground bus station and considers instead an intermodal station at street level, located at the center of the corridor and east of Plaza Baquedano, connected to the metro station through underground tunnels and large crosswalks.

Estación Central

This area presents a unique opportunity to establish itself as a landmark in the New Alameda, as it is an important reference point within the intermodal transport system. Moreover, being a historical building, it will be highlighted with a wide esplanade that favors the pedestrian transit, connecting Matucana Avenue, the brt, the metro station and a new urban development in the area of Ecuador Avenue.Another key element that characterizes this crossing is the possibility of diverting private vehicles towards Pajaritos Avenue through Ecuador Avenue, integrating commercial and residential uses in the area between Ecuador and Alameda. Gentler pedestrian areas will also be achieved in the west segment to Pajaritos, where pedestrian flow is high due to the presence of different local bus stations.


When the Alameda corridor reaches Santiago’s periphery, the urban context becomes generic . At this point converge vehicular arrival to Santiago from the East and the beginning of public transport system in the Alameda. Therefore, we propose an intermodal node that integrates the intercity bus station, parking, Pajaritos subway station and local bus stops. The node will be organized through a circular pedestrian walkway connecting all these elements, producing an elevated ring that indicates the entrance to the city.Such lifted walkway will allow continuous flow of public transport and will favor pedestrians at the same time, facilitating their movement and access to the corridor. This unique space will characterize the area and allow iconic views to and from the Alameda. The circular landmark will connect Pajaritos station with both ways of the New Alameda and Isla Decepción Street, integrating green areas resulting from the vehicular system with the existing park.

Architects: Alejandra Bosch, Arturo Lyon, Danilo Martic, Clara Oloriz, Alfredo Ramírez / Collaborators: Eloy Bahamondes, Lucas Vásquez / Location: Santiago, Chile / Client: Gobierno Regional Metropolitano de Santiago / Engineering and management: IDOM / Transport engineering: IDOM, Sergio Chiquetto y Steer, Davies & Gleave / Estimated budget: US$ 220.000.000 / Built surface: 120 ha. / Project year: 2016-2018

1. Alejandra Bosch | Architect, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 2005. Master of Arts in Landscape Urbanism, Architectural Association School of Architecture, London, 2008. Co-founder of Lyon Bosch Architects in Santiago. She has developed projects in China, Dubai, Qatar and the United Kingdom. Her academic work focuses on the representation of infrastructure and landscape. She is currently Professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

2. Arturo Lyon | Architect, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 2004. Master of Architecture, Design Research Laboratory, Architectural Association School of Architecture, London, 2007. Co-founder of Lyon Bosch Architects in Santiago. He has worked on projects in China, Dubai, UK and Singapore, among which we can highlight the Dubai Financial Market and Soho Galaxy with Zaha Hadid Architects, London. He has conducted several workshops in Chile, Argentina, Mexico and the United Kingdom. He is currently Professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

3. Danilo Martic | Architect, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 1998. Master in Landscape Architecture, University of Pennsylvania School of Design, usa, 2005. He has collaborated with Teodoro Fernandez in projects for the Bicentennial Park, remodeling Quinta Normal and Citizenship Park, among others. His works have been published in Chile and abroad. His work raises the concept of landscape as structuring element of design at urban and territorial scale. He is currently Professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

4. Clara Oloriz | Architect, School of Architecture, Universidad de Navarra, 2006. PhD Universidad de Navarra, Spain, and Architectural Association School of Architecture, London. She has worked at Foreign Office Architects and Plasma Studio. She currently heads Groundlab-London. At the AA her research focuses on the relationship between technology and architecture, and she also co-directs the Visiting School ‘Computing Topos’ in Bilbao and the ‘Urban Prototypes’ AA Research Cluster.

5. Alfredo Ramírez | Architect, Master of Landscape Urbanism, Architectural Association School of Architecture, London, 2005. Founder and director of Groundlab, which develops projects linking architecture, urbanism and landscape. He has carried out projects in China, Mexico, Spain and Chile, among which we can highlight the masterplan for the 2012 Summer Olympics or the International Exhibition of Horticulture in Xian, China, 2011. He is currently the Director of the Master in Landscape Urbanism at the AA, London.

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