Location: Managua, Nicaragua. New Neighborhood
Managüita, Managua, Nicaragua
The new neighborhood of Managüita uses traditional planning and local architectural traditions to create an urban oasis that is true to its culture and its people. “Many people think that New Urbanism is defined by traditional American building practices,” says juror Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk. “This exploration of a plan based on the Law of the Indies is a viable alternative for countries to current development practices.”
For the last three decades, many residents of Managua have been living in neighborhoods without sidewalks, parks, main streets, or public spaces. In 1972, an earthquake destroyed much of the area. 200,000 homes, most of them low- to middle- class residences, were lost and never rebuilt. Not surprisingly, this housing shortage has doubled in the last three decades. After the earthquake, foreign experts recommended splitting the city into single use zones clustered along the city’s main traffic arteries. As a result, the urban life previously compacted into a one-mile radius is now scattered along endless miles of highways.
The Managua metropolitan region maintains a high concentration of commerce, industry, and transportation. This development plan, commissioned by a major industrial business, would provide housing for company employees. The proposed site is adjacent to the company headquarters to provide potential employment for 3,000 of the town’s new residents.
Like early Hispanic towns, this plan outlines a neighborhood with a compact core. Walkability and density are intrinsic elements of the design. A plaza serves as the focal point of the new town, and is surrounded by mixed-use buildings featuring housing over shops. The most important civic building, the church, will be built on a prominent site where it is visible from all sides.
Well-designed streets link residences with amenities and provide a social venue. Roof overhangs are designed to extend the width of the sidewalk, and corner radii are less than 17 feet to facilitate pedestrian crossings. Avenues terminate on a park or on a forest reserve with views of the lakeside. Auto passage through the neighborhood is regulated with crooked thoroughfares paved in cobblestone or macadam. In all, from center to edge, the neighborhood is less then a 3-minute walk.
In a technique crucial to both the financial feasibility of the project and a flexibility in meeting the needs of individual families, a kit of parts is available for every dwelling to incrementally adapt a living space to accommodate changes in family size and spatial needs. L-shaped units dominate the residential design, making use of the courtyard architectural type. An ancillary building with direct access to a pedestrian alley lies behind many units. This unit can be rented for income or used as a shop or a small office.
The designers and planners had to work within strict financial parameters. The retail cost of a single home could not exceed $25,000, and at least 10 percent of the units could not be greater than 60 square meters (a qualification for government aid for needy families). The modularity of housing additions enables mass production of the units at a significant savings to the developer. This gives Managuans the opportunity to live, once again, in a place where all the functions of a community are integrated into a compact core that offers comfort and safety for its residents, at an affordable price.
Project: Managüita, Managua, Nicaragua
Site: A 62 acre lakefront parcel of land skirting the client’s company headquarters. The land sits in the midst of a larger metropolitan region that was heavily affected by a 1972 earthquake.
Program: To create traditional, pleasant, and affordable housing for employees of an industrial corporation in Managua. This housing would be integrated into the surrounding environs via walkable streets, and all buildings would be stylistically rooted in early Hispanic town models.
Architect/ Planner: Delphi Design & Development (Maria Eugenia Blanco, Horensia Lanio, Oscar A. Machado, Sonia Cruz De Baltodano)
Owner/ Developer: Café Soluble
Transect Zone(s): T2 reserve.
Project or Plan's Scale: Town
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Project team designers: Delphi Design & Development
Project team developers: Cafe Soluble
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