Los Frailes de Catia. Caracas. Ongoing project

Project Lead: Marcos Coronel, Gabriel Visconti, Stevenson Piña, Ricardo Sanz, Rodrigo Marín.

Team: María Isabel Ramírez, Ana Cristina Morales, Laura Di Benedetto, Karina Domínguez, José Bastidas, Adriano Pastorino.

Names and Roles of Clients & Partners: INPARQUES National Institute of Parks and Ministry of Communes and Social Movements (Urban policy), Los Frailes Community (Social management).

Total Cost: 80.000 USD.

Main Sources of Funding: Federal Government Council.

Project Start Date: March 2015

Project End Date: First lap March 2016 – Ongoing project.

The project consists in a operation of territorial restructuring, focused on consolidating an integrated set of multiprogrammed community facilities, the renovation of households, common spaces and the updating of service infrastructures within the barrio.

The project starts from the action to address an illegally populated sector, applying the regulations that regulate the use of natural protected areas to establish level 1100 as the maximum available level of construction within the national park.

The intervention articulates a series of operations of public endowments:

  1. Reduced Multisport_ A sports space that embraces a more playful and recreational sense, detached from the competition and high performance model that stands out in the neoliberal society. A court that does not claim standard dimensions, on the contrary, obeys parameters similar to those of its surroundings: irregular morphology, accidental orientation, unconventional dispositions.
  2. Open Parliament_ Circuit of shared neighborhood terraces and tribune assembly, articulated on the main matrix of barrio services, hosts the main assembly activities of the community. Not just a community house, but a parliament that promotes a more political and democratic character of space. A participatory platform to deliberate and confront public affairs.
  3. Plaza_ Stabilization operation of the land and common patio to the outside of reformed houses in the most remote point of the barrio. Take advantage of a stabilization wall built from the permaculture technique, using sacks of sifted sand from the same site. The idea is to use the space as a workshop-school for training in the management of ecosystems within the neighborhood, including the protection of the National Park.

Support participatory, democratic, multicultural and interdisciplinary processes and approaches in strengthening community solidarity as a factor of rural and urban social development.

This equipment is part of a series of urban protocols focused on legitimizing informal settlements that respond to the agreement establishing a habitable border within the Waraira Repano National Park, the main natural ecosystem of the metropolitan area of Caracas.

Sectors inhabited this protected area, especially popular neighborhoods, must become spaces for the preservation of the nature of the park, being able to return the extracted resources, from a relationship of sustainable use with the elements provided by the land.

The intervention manages a process of restructuring the barrio and promoting the community empowerment through an intense work agenda that involves the protocols construction for co-habitability, sustainable relationship with the natural ecosystem, productivity development plans, rules for occupation, administration of the territory and social coexistence agreements, starting from the multidimensional management between the potentialities of the community, the operational logistical capacities of the institutions and the tools of the disciplines applied to the urban problem.


Cooperate for fair and sustainable development initiatives in active collaboration with disadvantaged people or communities. This process shall follow principles of human solidarity, non- discrimination and will be aimed at promoting their self-sufficiency.

Unbuilt spaces are not easily located in dense favelas, as are numerous settlements in western Caracas. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, popular classes that migrated from the countryside to the city, attracted by the vortex of consumption and access to growing trade, conquered by masses every square meter of unregulated urban land.

In this same period during the real estate heyday of the 80s, it became common practice to control the territory in the main favelas from Caracas that opposed the displacement process of its inhabitants. Strong disputes transformed these settlements into closed areas, where the presence of outsiders is not usual.

The project manages to extinguish this barrier between the community of the sector and other nearby neighborhoods, who coexist in these spaces through the project, establishing new fraternity relationships among communities. A system of common spaces interconnected to the interior of the neighborhood, where architecture is just a support instrument that is deployed to accommodate multiple undertakings, real needs and local potential.

Facilitate the use of appropriate technologies, materials and labour adequate to local values, to the cultural specificity and responsive to the natural environment.

The Caracas’ favelas are constructed from the logic of buildings that are braced together, given their tissue structure, different to lot or plot configurations. These buildings share foundations and the whole set of structural systems at the same time. Construction is based on generating operations of soil formation, walls stabilization, slopes and leveling, among a variety of technical solutions closer to the function of engineering, where design architecture goes to the background, opening the way to pragmatic decisions.

This intervention process carry out forced works tackled by an extraordinary community cooperative that integrates more than two hundred people, involving machinery maneuvers by previously impassable areas, exhaustive cleaning, weeding, debris boats and mobilizations of large volumes of freehand materials. A work methodology that handles design and collective management of the processes, always trying to adjust to the needs, demands and capacities of the barrio.