A series of photos from Buenos Aires along with some quick facts.

A slightly longer post today about my workplace here in Buenos Aires.

This is Ciudad Universitaria. Literally this means ‘University City’, but a better translation is ‘campus’. It is the location of several Faculties and departments. The largest of which are the Faculties of Architecture and Urban Design (FADU) and the Faculty of Natural Sciences (FCEyN) of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), Argentina’s most prestigious and well-known university. The campus is located in Nuñez in the north-east of the city. It was built on land reclaimed from the Rio De La Plata. The campus is sandwiched between Avenida Intendente Cantillo (and Lugones) and the river. On the other side of the busy Avenidas is the famous River Plate football stadium.

A photograph of the entrance of the Faculty of Science.
The stairs to the entrance of Pabellon II, the Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales. Let’s just call it the the Science Faculty.

Building of the campus started on the reclaimed land in 1964. The plan was to move all of the University of Buenos Aires to the same campus, but this never happened, and the other faculties are scattered over the city; from the Faculty of Law in Recoleta; it’s twin building, the Faculty of Engineering near San Telmo; the Faculties of Medicine and Economics in Barrio Norte; and the Faculty of Agronomy in the the barrio of Agronomia.

The site of the Nuñez campus had previously been used for a balneario (see the leftmost photo below.) The smaller schools of industry and physics were built and completed first, according to the initial plan for the campus. Later, followed the building of the much larger pabellones (pavillions) II and III. However, development abruptly stopped, leaving the prepared foundations for a fourth pabellon and an area cleared of vegetation for the fifth pabellon. Later additions to the site include the Institutes of Astronomy and Geochronology.

In the photo below you can see three views, of approximately the same scale, of the campus, showing the extent of land reclamation.

The image shows three views of ciudad universitaria: Before, an Openstreetmap of the current site, and a Google Maps satellite view of Ciudad Universitaria.
Three views of ciudad universitaria (l–r): Before, an Openstreetmap of the current site, and a Google Maps satellite view of Ciudad Universitaria.

Further land reclamation created the ‘tongue’ of land that lies between the river and pabellones II and III. The land was created in order to make a new city park, development on this project also stopped, leaving the area to be populated by trees and other species that grow in the area. A large swamp area also exists and has a large variety of birds species living there. Unfortunately, it is also used for dumping large quantities of rubbish.

In 2006, the city government, under the leadership of Mauricio Macri  and his PRO party, tried to redevelop the area and unite the recently (2001) created the Memorial Park (a memorial to the victims of the dirty war. Officially it is titled, ‘Memorial Park for the Victims of State Terrorism) with the Children’s Park, which is located just outside the city boundary. Developers moved in and started removing vegetation and laying concrete, including an extension of the city’s drainage system was added to drain the water of the Arroyo Vega* (Vega stream) and help prevent flooding during heavy rain. Disagreement with the students and the university authorities led to a stoppage in the development, leaving the park to fall back in disrepair and for nature to start to break up the concrete pathways. The area was eventually officially designated a ‘Reserva Ecologica Ciudad Universitaria‘ (a much larger ecological reserve exists in Puerto Madero, again created by land reclamation for development that never occurred). The area is now used (it is discouraged, but not actually stopped) by fishermen, and families wanting to cool off in the hot weather, despite the fact that the river is polluted and full of dangerous rubbish. The base of the intended pabellon 5 is now home to a small community of students who have formed an ‘eco-community‘ there.

In 2015, the city government announced plans to redevelop the circular roadway, which is used to provide bus services, including clearing the base of pabellons 4 and 5 to make space for new parking lots. This work also included the addition of a new train station, ‘Ciudad Universitaria’, on the Ferrovias line from Retiro to Villa Rosa and only a few hundreds of metres from the existing Scalabrini Ortiz station.

Below is a panoramic photograph of the interior of the faculty of science: it’s a cavernous brutalist monster. There are four floors, an ‘entrepiso’, and a basement level, which also has a mezzanine floor. The Faculty of Architecture is similar, but the roof of the central atrium is much lower, unlike pabellon II where it extends to the fourth floor. The campus is on the approach (or departure) path for aeroplanes from the nearby Aeroparque, which can make working on the third floor, or waiting for a bus, a slightly unnerving experience.

There is certainly more to write about the campus, and I have only touched on a little of the history.

IMG_5188

*which maybe I will write about one day, but I guess that not everyone is as interested in culverted rivers as I am.

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