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Buenos Aires, Cultural Landscape: The river; the pampas, the historical ravine and immigration

Buenos Aires, Cultural Landscape: The river; the pampas, the historical ravine and immigration

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01/19/2011

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US/ICOMOS International SymposiumBuenos Aires, Cultural Landscape: The river; the pampas, the historical ravine and immigrationMaria De La Nieves (Argentina)LOCATION
Location of South AmericaArgentina within Latin Americaand Province of Buenos Aireswithin Argentina, and BuenosAiresThe City of Buenos Aires withinthe Province of Buenos Aires.Buenos Aires and theMetropolitan AreaBoundaries of the nominatedproperty and buffer zone - Detail 
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Boundaries of the nominatedproperty and buffer zone 
 
The proposed area is in the City of Buenos Aires, capital of the Argentine Republic, located in theSouthern hemisphere of the American continent. This city extends for 19.4 kilometres from Northto South and 17.9 kilometres from East to West. Within its perimeter of 202 square kilometreslives a population of nearly 3 million.The city of Buenos Aires has had a special relationship with the Rio de la Plata since it wasfounded. There is something culturally different about this relationship that sets Buenos Airesapart from other coastal cities.
The land and the riverThe Rio de la Plata
Buenos Aires is located on the banks of the Rio de la Plata, an estuary derived from theconfluence of the Rivers Parana and Uruguay, in the South-East of South America, where theyflow into the Atlantic Ocean. These mighty rivers
transport enormous amounts of sediments, andthat is why there are so many clay and mud banks in the estuary
.The immense sedimentation capacity of the Rio de la Plata has greatly influenced the urbandevelopment of the City of Buenos Aires and the particular way in which the coast has been usedwhich, in turn, explains the characteristics of its man-made heritage.The Rio de la Plata forms an arm of the sea that separates the countries of Argentina andUruguay. It is about 230 km in width at its widest point, and diminishes progressively upstreamthroughout its length of about 274 km where it reaches the delta of the River ParanaThe River Parana loses speed in its final section, thus the particles it holds in suspensionprecipitate. This is accelerated by the tidal flows of the Rio de la Plata, which cause the water tochange direction four times a day (two high and two low tides). This physical phenomenon is thecause of the formation of the Parana Delta and the sedimentation process that continuouslymodifies the coastline of the City of Buenos Aires.Picture: 1
The Pampas - The natural environment and physical platform for urbanization
 
The Rio de la Plata is an impressive extension of water that makes it impossible to see the othershore. This produces a feeling of immensity that is usually associated to marine landscapes,rather than to fluvial landscapes.Remarkably, the Pampean landscape, an enormous plain with no important geographic changes,produces the same feelings. Described as “a sea on land”, Humboldt said that the Pampa “givesa sense of the infinity”.Picture: 2Buenos Aires stands on a plain of sedimentary origin that overlays a rocky platform.The sediments are of a diverse nature: some are coarse (sand) and others are finer (clay andmud). They have reached us after having been carried by different means – the heaviest by sea,as the Pampean plain was occupied by the sea during earlier geological periods.Buenos Aires opted for a mobile coastline, where the successive sedimentation processes havegenerated different forms of usage of the new spaces. At each historical stage, new forms of useof the low-lying lands were defined, in accordance with the city-planning and architecturalfashions of the day. Although they display a wide range of morphological differences, what mostof them had in common was to consider the limit between the City and the Rio de la Plata as aspace that was not defined once and for all but in a continuous process of change.The overriding objective in this respect during the last part of the 19th century and the whole ofthe 20th century, was "to reclaim land from the river". That is to say, to think of the growth of the
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City, not only over its surrounding territories, but also over the Rio de la Plata.
The coast of Buenos Aires through the time: 1588-1782-1859-1887-2000
 The particular natural conditions of continuous sedimentation of the estuary encouraged such anapproach. This resulted in diverse constructive forms that characterized Buenos Aires over time,with several historic layers, representative of the styles of every period. Unlike the archaeologicalzones, in which the layers are vertical (the new upon the old), in Buenos Aires we find horizontallayers, where the oldest are on the historical edge of the river bank and the newest are near thepresent water’s edge.
The historical ravine
 
The Pampas plain that characterizes the undulating Pampas, is circumscribed, within the City ofBuenos Aires, by an escarpment, popularly known as “the slope”, that separates it from the Riode la Plata. It constitutes a geomorphic regional element, since it extends down to the city ofRosario and represents the Eastern limit of the Pampas. It runs from North-West to South-East,the difference in elevation can exceed 10 metres in relation to the Accumulation Terrace of theEstuary. In the City of Buenos Aires, it extends from Lezama Park, through the historical centrenorthwards, through Plaza Francia, blending into the valley of the Maldonado Stream, only toresurface in the districts of Belgrano and Nuñez. To the South, in the area of the Matanza-RiverRiachuelo, it goes inland, delimiting the districts of Flores and Mataderos.
Plan of the City of Buenos Airesshowing green spaces, streamsand the slope
 
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