Avenida Lecuna Re-Urbanization
Urban design is a political process. As construction finished on a new subway line beneath the mile-long Avenida Lecuna, U-TT learned in 2007 that the government-owned Metro Company of Caracas had failed to prepare a comprehensive redevelopment plan. Despite being a major thoroughfare, dozens of vacant parcels and derelict buildings would have been left unaddressed on the avenue.
In response, U-TT proposed a vision that included mixed-income housing, offices, shops, educational and sports facilities, and a health clinic. This was complemented by a customized signage and color scheme developed in collaboration with the graphic design firm Intégral. One particular building, “Teatros”, was conceived as a next-generation prototype of the “growing house” concept, combining public programs, production spaces, and residential units that could each be modified by users over time. The structure was also interlaced with an internal circulation system connected directly to the streets below by a bridge and stairs.
After U-TT submitted the final drawings, city architects appropriated the plans without compensation. Government officials, angry about the firm’s refusal to align itself with the Chavez regime, sought to claim the revitilization scheme as their own. Today, a series of buildings loosely resembling those designed by U-TT in form, if not intent, have sprouted up along a yellow-painted Avenida Lecuna. The complicated story of the development process highlights how even socially-oriented public architecture can fall victim to volatile political forces.