While architectural discourse has been preoccupied with varied strains of postmodern and poststructuralist theory, approximately 75 percent of development in -for example- the U.S. over the last thirty years has occurred in the ever-expanding urban-suburban peripheries called "urban sprawl".

While "bigness" (according to Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas) invites us to perceive these landscapes in terms of dynamic fluidity, change and freedom, new urbanists emerged with a highly critical position towards the social and environmental consequences of sprawl and have promoted a return to more traditional, compact, town-planning strategies intended to slow down people (and cars), connect to existing conditions and emphasize enduring building types and place-based characteristics.

Central America has one of the highest urbanization growth rates in the world and a large portion of this urbanization process is happening in a seemingly autonomous way according to its own laws and logics. How could small scale projects render the city in a more comprehensible way and how could micro organized activities help organizing the urban carpet? How do you define a place in an informal urban environment that is fragmented through both natural and human intervention?

Small scale projects in a small scale economy are being proposed and contextualized; different historic city development models are being evaluated. The idea of "smallness" is looked upon from different angles, domains and disciplines. It is compared to other parts of the world that provide different economic possibilities and scale. What is small in relationship to its environment? How could the living conditions in an inefficient spontaneous city development be improved through systems of urban acupuncture?

In connection to the research, different projects are proposed, such as the Amon Collective, the Parque Metropolitana La Libertad or the Los Hatillos redevelopment in San José, Costa Rica.


The research program is developed by *A-01 in collaboration with Lineas / Luis Diego Barahona; a work group with the goal to apply the outcomes of the research was founded with Costa Rican architects Jaime Rouillon, Victor Canas and Rolando Barahona Sotela*

Location: Various

Status: Completed

Year: 2006–2009