Thursday, January 1, 2009

Bolivia. La Paz. Laderas

One of the areas that is much more interesting architecturally are the ‘laderas’ of La Paz, the hillsides where people have been building like crazy, often illegally. This is basically the interstitial zone between the main commercial district of La Paz and the city of El Alto. The implications are tremendous as not only are people destroying valuable vegetation, but the buildings are slowly getting taller and taller. Unfortunately, the place where density is increasing on the hillsides, is just where it shouldn’t be. La Paz’s hillsides are almost like gravel. When vegetation is destroyed, much of the rainwater permeates and then filters out lower down the hills, often causing collapses and destruction in mudslides and such. At the very least, the majority of people have water entering into their homes when it rains. I must say, the hillsides are pretty extraordinary, and again, the majority of the houses are built on inclines over 45 degrees! But, they have the best views! Some of the constructions are quite engaging, and the use of rooftops is ubiquitous. With all the clamour about green roofs and stuff these days, we forget that a large majority of the world have used rooftops as very active spaces.

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