Public Events Space, Ecuador 428, Valparaiso, Chile.

Sitio Eriazo, our client, is a collective whose aim is to recover empty, abandoned, urban spaces in the city of Valparaiso, Chile, which are currently used as rubbish dumps and attract vermin and delinquents. The members of the group are recent graduates from theater, art and architecture schools. The activities of the group rely on self-motivation, mutual support and a non-hierarchical organisation; they work to recover and make available to the community the urban patrimony of the city of Valparaiso which was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.

“The colonial city of Valparaíso presents an excellent example of late 19th-century urban and architectural development in Latin America. In its natural amphitheatre-like setting, the city is characterized by a vernacular urban fabric adapted to the hillsides that are dotted with a great variety of church spires. It contrasts with the geometrical layout utilized in the plain. The city has well preserved its interesting early industrial infrastructures, such as the numerous ‘elevators’ on the steep hillsides.” (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/959)

Forest fires behind the Valparaiso hills, March 2015.

The hills of Valparaiso, largely XIX C timber building

Sitio Eriazo begins its activities in 2012 by recovering an abandoned urban site in Escalera Becker, a site which was converted into a space for the diffusion of arts & crafts and which facilitates activities such as urban agriculture, theater, carpentry, and other self-sustaining undertakings. In 2014 Sitio Eriazo obtains legal status as an organization and move to an empty site in Ecuador 428 which it is currently developing.

Sitio Eriazo recycles the wastes produced by society in order to generate tools of resistance, transformed into architecture, theatre, music, circus, painting, crafts and orchards, to help us build alternative modes of working and learning which will alter our relationship with the environment.The objectives of Sitio Eriazo can be summed up as follows:

• To recover Valparaiso’s heritage and make it available to the community.

• To promote arts and crafts as tools for work and learning.

• Generate meeting and reflection spaces for the neighborhood.

• To promote art and culture activities through open workshops.

• Develop self-sustaining construction techniques through recycling.

• Develop self-awareness of the local identity of places together within the community.

Sitio Eriazo, autogestión (Vacant Lot, self-initiative)

The project:

Sitio Eriazo has invited the Scarcity and Creativity Studio to help it to consolidate its activities in the Ecuador 428 site.At the moment Sitio Eriazo has cleared the site of all rubbish, has secured it by building provisional closures in its four points of access from the street, and has built provisional facilities to enable it to carry out its activities.The activities which Sitio Eriazo plans for the site are:A flexible events space, to accommodate theater, circus, and music performances. At present up to 100 people have attended Sitio Eriazo’s performances.A café, to prepare and serve food to those attending the organised events. The events which Sitio Eriazo organizes are free, but they do charge for food. At present they have built an adobe pizza oven and BBQ grill which they use for all the cooking.Two workshop spaces, which will be the places where arts and crafts are taught and where the community can come to realize their projects.Toilets for those attending the events. A vegetable garden, where Sitio Eriazo can plant vegetables and herbs to be used in the kitchen.

The current state of the Ecuador 428 initiative:

• Sitio Eriazo are currently negotiating with the owner of the site and are near signing a lease which would allow them to use the site for five years rent free.

• Sitio Eriazo have secured water supply into the site and are negotiating an electricity supply. The old sewer seems to be working and currently has one toilet connected to it.

• The neighbors in the vicinity of Ecuador 428 are delighted that Sitio Eriazo has cleaned the site and rid it of the illegal activities, such as drugs and rough sleepers, for which it was previously used.

• The Municipality of Valparaiso gives moral support to the activities of Sitio Eriazo but due to the fact that Ecuador 428 is private property they cannot get involved in the project.

Sitio Eriazo is currently building facilities which make their activities possible. As they lack the funds to buy building materials they mostly rely on recycling what they can scavenge. When The Scarcity and Creativity Studio (SCS) develop a proposal for the site some of the facilities in place may remain while others will be taken down to be replaced by those designed by SCS. This will be the subject of a discussion and agreement between Sitio Eriazo and SCS shortly before the building work begins.

Ecuador 428 site, fish-eye view from the back of the site.
Ecuador 428 site, seen from the street.

Ecuador 428 site, seen from the back of the site.
Sitio Eriazo group having lunch in the Ecuador 428 site.

Ecuador 428 site as used today.