February 13 2013

Core Values: The Regeneration of the Center of Guayaquil, Ecuador

After forty-eight hours in a city, you usually have an idea about whether you enjoy it, or if you just want to leave. This time frame may allow for a walk through the city’s center and, perhaps a visit to a few well-known attractions or landmarks. On a visit to Ecuador’s commercial center and principal port Guayaquil, you may find this initial forty eight hours is likely to convince you to extend your stay. However, twenty-years ago you may already have left by this time. It was not until the early 1990’s that the local government decided to shake the city’s reputation as dangerous and degraded, and instead try to validate the city’s ambitious claim as the “The Pearl of The Pacific.”

Improving the physical fabric of the city was seen as an essential part of the city’s renewal. Significant projects included:

  • The Boardwalk apart of the Malecon 2000 Redevelopment.Malecon 2000: The redevelopment of the boardwalk area along the Guayas river that provided a range of bars, cafes, gardens, restaurants, and theaters;
  • Metrovia: The 2007 United Nations sustainable and award-winning bus priority transport system that linked the outer barrios to the city center, as well as tackled previous air pollution and congestion issues;

A local park in one of Guayaquil's outer barrios.However, Guayaquil still has work to do in regards to dealing with the economic and social issues that plague the day-to-day life of residents. Issues such as crime, illiteracy, juvenile drug use, and urban poverty are major problems that still lie within the city’s sprawling barrios. Projects such as the creation of new anti-crime and security programs have failed to stem the trends in the city’s crime rates.

Whilst poverty reduction projects have had some effect on lowering the number of urban poor, a visit outside the downtown proves that revitalizing the living conditions for the one in five “Guyaquilenos” that still live below the poverty line is potentially the city’s biggest challenge.

Should sustainable crime and poverty levels be prioritized over such major urban redevelopments? Do you know of other cities that have similarly succeeded in re-inventing their urban centres?

Credits: Images by Steven Petsinis. Data linked to sources.

Steven Petsinis

Steven Petsinis is an Urban Planning graduate from Melbourne, Australia. He has been involved in Urban Research and Development projects in Medellin, Colombia and Saigon, Vietnam and is currently pursuing his masters in Melbourne, Australia. His main interests lie in land use and social planning, sustainability, as well as studies involving globalization and it's effect on third world communities. He has recently spent one year travelling throughout North and South America, as well as Europe, where he has gathered material and inspiration for his upcoming blogs for The Grid.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 13th, 2013 at 9:52 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Infrastructure, Land Use, Social/Demographics, Transportation, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


2 Responses to “Core Values: The Regeneration of the Center of Guayaquil, Ecuador”

  1. Jennifer Garcia Says:

    Thanks, Steven, for this post.
    I lived in Guayaquil several years ago in Alborada Este for about a year. While I do think that these improvements were a good step for the city in regards to tourism for their economy, the question is always raised about the welfare for the residents that struggle daily. I think there is a delicate balance that needs to be addressed between investments geared towards tourism AND residents alike. Providing a clean and fast means of transportation that is attractive to visitors was an investment more towards tourism, as residents (or at least my group of guayaquileños) aren’t too fond of Metrovia. I know of private organizations working in schools to help stop this prevalent cycle of poverty, but I’d like to see public programs available across the city as well. While Malecon 2000 and Malecon del Salado are popular places amongst visitors and residents, I think a missed opportunity was the relation of the design/aesthetics to traditional Ecuadorian architecture and building techniques. Granted most of Ecuador’s tourism is in Quito, the Galapagos Islands, etc, but I know Guayaquil does have much to offer in regards of history, culture, architecture, location, etc.
    Good article, great questions.

  2. Steven Petsinis Says:

    Thank you Jennifer,
    Some great points you have brought up here.
    Especially regarding Ecuadorian Architecture and Design. Reurbanisation is important for the city, but if a project could utilize local resources as well as reflect local architecture/design techniques it could provide as much for the people as it does for the place.

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