Navigating Extractive Entanglements through the Synthesis of Infrastructure and Ecological Function in Iquitos, Peru

Urban landscapes have become characterized by static, impervious systems, disconnected from nature. In Iquitos, a city of half-a-million in the Peruvian Amazon, attempts to replace natural systems with engineered infrastructure have yielded unhealthy conditions for both the human residents and the surrounding ecology. As Peru unrolls a national initiative to build commemorative Bicentennial parks, we envision this as an opportunity to revive an economy that has suffered from boom and bust cycles of extractive industries. This thesis explores the relationship between conventional city infrastructure and natural systems in the Amazon region across spatial and time scales to answer the question; how can urban parks serve as critical infrastructure to support the local economy, address human and ecological health, and celebrate cultural identities?

 

Reimagining the amphibious city: From health data to ecological design in an Amazonian informal community

Water circumnavigates the Amazon River Basin’s urban centers, blurring lines between city and river. As Amazonian cities swell, growing populations inhabit the seasonally flooding edges of the urban landscape. These amphibious communities, which are adapted to both high and low river seasons, are often informal and are disproportionately vulnerable to health risks tied to socioeconomic inequality, climate change, and urban systems. Though Indigenous architecture has designed with Amazonian hydrology for millennia, colonial ideas of the form that urbanization should take eschew amphibiousness. This design research focuses on the amphibious informal community of Claverito, in Iquitos, Peru to examine the built environment as a social determinant of health and to ask: What is the role of evidence-based ecological design in informal community upgrading? How can health data center people in informal community redevelopment to align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals? How can a landscape systems approach to built environment design mitigate risk of exposure to water-related infectious diseases while contributing to city-wide resilience?