Considering Costa Rica's history, its urban system and the perception of the inhabitants of the Greater Metropolitan Area (G.A.M.), we propose a new layout for this largest urban territory within the country.

2.2 million people live on 1779km2; the large majority of this low density urban population prefers a life in suburbia at the edges of the Central Valley which houses the G.A.M., resulting in an exodus from the historic urban centers. El Carmen, one of the 4 central districts of San Jose and Costa Rica’s urban cultural genesis today has a population of just 22 inhabitants per hectare.

In a digitalized toolbox scenario, we illustrate the potential of designing the G.A.M. as a high performance polycentric network system (P.N.S.) dotted with a series of diverse and densified urban service nodes as suggested by the governmental urban planning program PRUGAM.

Each of those nodes is equipped with a mix-use program to create a 24h city for work and living; an exemplary "Centro Compacto Multifuncional (C.C.M.)" was designed for El Carmen (C.C.M.E.C.). Through a series of heterotopic building typologies that stimulate a sustainable urban growth, different types and scales of investment are analyzed to reanimate and repopulate the downtown area through the applied urban acupuncture.

The different urban nodes will be connected through a highly efficient public transport system and a network of alternative circulation corridors for bicycles and pedestrians that follow the green river arteries and parts of the abandoned train system. Today, only 6% of the cities' surface is protected green; we propose to raise this number to almost 25% within the urban target zone and to connect it to the great nature surround composed of volcanoes, tropical forests and lakes through an infrastructural proposal called Trama Verde.

One of our primary goals is to reconstitute and strengthen the environmental quality of the central districts and to create an example for the GAM at large. Envisioned as a secure place to work, live, shop and relax, the four central districts could provide the diversified economic and cultural strength as seen in its heydays.


A Company (Oliver Schütte and Marije van Lidth de Jeude with Ronald Fonseca and Jean Paul Garnier) for PRUGAM

Location: Greater Metropolitan Area, Costa Rica

Status: Completed

Year: 2007-2008