The Wave is a permanent public art space developed in 2015 in response to the need for a community-driven creative space in Valparaiso, Chile, once a thriving cosmopolitan city. The Wave was conceived to address the environmental and cultural factors behind the decaying cityscape, a result of the socio-economic decline due to increasing unemployment and growing social disconnection within the local community.
Sitio Eriazo, the dynamic volunteer-driven arts collective behind the project, has historically engaged with, and revitalised empty, abandoned urban spaces. Through innovative community engagement programs these spaces have been transformed into thriving cultural hubs that pay homage to the city’s culturally rich history as a prosperous, diverse and creative city.
Historically, Valparaiso was considered the most important sea-port linking the atlantic and pacific oceans; a great example of industrial-age heritage influenced by the movement of European immigrants and international trade through the region in the 1880s until the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914.
With its improvised urban architecture of colourfully painted houses sitting on the hills overlooking the port, Valparaiso is still mostly populated by fishermen, poets artists, and thieves.
The city itself is shaped like an amphitheatre, facing the sea — no doubt the inspiration behind the architectural design of the project.
Through landscape driven architectural intervention The Wave successfully transformed and remediated disused spaces, enabling social connectedness through creative practice within community. Furthermore it now provides a place for discussion around urban agriculture and environmental management.
The Sitio Eriazo, comprised of playwrights, artists and architects, works collaboratively to recover the artistic spirit, communal history, and architectural landscape of the city of Valparaiso — declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.
The collective and other emerging community-driven cultural heritage movements play a key role in redefining the city’s identity, marked by an increase in culturally rich and progressive projects taking place, community is reshaping the city.
The Wave is a platform for ongoing social activation and community integration. Debate around local issues and citizenship emerge through dialogues and creative practice with audiences of up to 100 people in attendance.
Cultural and Social
• Social inclusion: To develop inclusive activities that aid with community integration.
• Audience engagement/Social activation/debate: To generate a space to reflect, debate and make decisions around local neighbourhood issues. Promote art and cultural activities through accessible, free workshops
• Personal development/ Education: To build alternative forms of work and learning for the people of Valparaiso in order to improve their relationship with the local environment. To develop and create awareness of a community identity. To promote arts as pedagogical tools through the delivery of ongoing, accessible, creative workshops held with the community.
• Waste minimisation: To apply sustainable construction techniques and source recyclable materials from the region.
• Marketing/ place and identity: To heighten the profile of the local area and reduce the safety issues surrounding the neighbourhood. To recover the local area’s cultural heritage.
• Regeneration: To activate unused spaces that are considered problem areas.
‘The SCS’s aim is to expose students to the full architectural process, from interacting with the clients to building their designs. SCS seek challenging contexts in which local conditions and creativity are employed to make the most of scarce resources. SCS takes on commissions for groups who need buildings to facilitate their community activities.’ ( extracted from SCS’s website)
OUTCOMES & IMPACTS
Methods of Evaluation
No formal evaluation process was conducted, however anecdotal evidence and ongoing social engagement proves that the project is successful in reconnecting the local community, recovering and activating unused and discarded spaces and providing a cultural hub that now showcases grassroots art from around the country.
Winner of the Architecture of Necessity: Triennial in Sweden, 2016. Published globally.
Work of the year Award: Plataforma Arquitectura for the best Architecture piece from a spanish-speaking country.
- Nominated for The College of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology’s Mies Crown Americas Prize, MCHAP, to recognize the most distinguished architectural works built on North and South American continents.
The project significantly strengthens the local community by creating a space of social inclusion for those at risk of marginalisation due to poverty, hardship and/or affected by urban decay, it provides a space to engage with local issues and participate in defining suitable solutions.
•Social inclusion and activation: Residents who do not usually engage with existing government-run community programs regularly take part in activities at The Wave, as their participation is encouraged and their voices heard.
•Health and well-being: Rubbish dumps were transformed into spaces for creative practice and expression, this has significantly improved the health and wellbeing for local residents.
•Crime and safety: Reduction in local crime rates due to participatory engagement practices with at-risk youth and the revitalisation of the local area. In 2013 Valparaiso residents denounced delinquency as the most important problem affecting their community 24.8% (more than poverty, education, finances or health), in 2015 this fell to 24.6%. (Sourced through Instituto Nacional de Estadisticas)
•Skills acquisition/Personal development/ Education: SCS engaged Norwegian architecture students and local architects to do on-the-ground work experience on this community- lead project. They attained important practical experience, learnt to address social and environmental challenges through engaging directly with the community and the landscape.
Vacant Lot of Cabbages is recognised by its inclusion in the collection of the country’s foremost cultural institution Te Papa Tongarewa – Museum of New Zealand; in the country’s online encyclopaedia Te Ara; and in the edited art book Wellington: A City for Sculpture from Victoria University Press (2008). Arguably no other NZ art project has resulted in such a large body of media documentation being collected by the Te Papa Museum. The notion of art ‘intervening’ in disused space is now the central tenet of Wellington’s ‘Letting Space’ group, which runs a liaison programme between landowners and artists called Urban Dream Brokerage. The programme helps artists to cheaply use otherwise unlettable space to stimulate economic and cultural activity. Vacant Lot of Cabbages challenged the rule of law directly, offering a way forward through artistic creativity and political and media debate – a lead on how creativity itself could be seen as a part of the identity of the city.
Disease prevention through a more healthy environment, reduction of vermin infestations.
Waste minimisation was a key priority through the development of the project using recycled material where possible; Energy efficiency was also a big concern as access to electricity in the area is limited.
•Marketing/place and identity: The community led programs delivered through The Wave have enabled local residents to rediscover the city’s cultural heritage (through reviving oral histories of the local area, transforming them into plays, songs and artworks) and empowered them to redefine, in their own terms, a creative vision for Valparaiso.
•Tourism: The Wave has become an attraction to both locals and foreigners.
Sitio Eriazo initiated its activities in 2012 by recovering an abandoned urban site in Escalera Becker, a site converted for the diffusion of arts and workshop activities including urban agriculture, theater, carpentry, and other self-sustaining undertakings. In 2014 they obtained legal status as an organization and moved on to remediate the empty site at Ecuador 428. (extracted from e-architect site, see link below)
Sitio Eriazo invited the Scarcity and Creativity Studio to help consolidate its activities in the Ecuador 428 site. Before the project begun, Sitio Eriazo cleared the site of all debris, secured it by building provisional closures in its four points of access from the street, and built provisional facilities to enable the development of the architectural side of the project, delivered by The Scarcity and Creativity Studio .
The brief for the site was to design a flexible events space that could accommodate live performances in addition, the project — which became known as ‘The Wave’ — also included a space for workshops, community projects including an urban garden which together with their kitchen provides catering for the events and performances.
IMPACTS OF ARTWORK PRODUCTION
The materials used during the construction stages were sourced locally and where possible, recycled materials were chosen above non-recycled during construction.
The Scarcity and Creativity Studio – based in the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO) http://scs.aho.no/
The Wave, Open Air Community Theatre in Valparaiso http://www.e-architect.co.uk/chile/the-wave-open-air-community-theatre-in-valparaiso
Valparaiso crime statistics: http://www.ine.cl/canales/chile_estadistico/encuestas_seguridadciudadana/victimizacion2015.php
Rio Political Declaration on Social Determinants of Health