Alejandro Haiek Coll lives in Caracas, Venezuela. In his architectural design work, he is more interested in “the design of a logistic chain of events than to the massive construction.” His projects, which often have a strong social component, have focused on the renewal and resuscitation of inactive landscapes, revival of urban soils, and the concepts of reuse, recycle, revive and re-program. One of his projects, Tiuna el Fuerte Cultural Park, a programmable urban oasis in Caracas, Venezuela, designed and created by LabProFab—a design collaborative headed by Alejandro Haiek Coll and Eleanna Cadalso—has just won two major awards.
Last year, Tiuna el Fuerte Cultural Park was selected as winner of the first prize in the International Festival of Architecture of Barcelona EME3 2012, sponsored by Fundación Jesús Serra. In April 2013, it was selected from more than 140 researched projects as winner of the International Award for Public Art presented in Shanghai, China.
The project began in 2006 when Haiek and Cadalso teamed up with other collectives to occupy an abandoned parking lot to create a model of what they call instant microurbanism. The park infrastructure was built using cost-effective, low-energy technologies. Recycled shipping containers, for instance, were grouped together as modular elements in expandable multi-use spaces. Increasing green coverage in the city was another project priority. Currently the Capitol District of Caracas contains an average of .26 square meters of park space per inhabitant, compared to the World Health Organization’s recommended standard of 10 to 12 square meters of park space per city inhabitant.
In recent years, the project area has continued to expand, becoming a city cultural park containing offices, classrooms, dining spaces, green spaces and sports areas, and with plans for organized workshops and other activities promoting development in the arts and sciences. At present, of a total of five planned projects two have been completed. There currently exist a store, a cafeteria, administrative offices, a radio station, and a music-editing studio. On a daily basis more than 500 children and adolescents participate in cultural and artistic events in the park.
The name of the park is a reference to a nearby military base, Fuerte Tiuna. However, “Tiuna” was originally the name of a native warrior from the region. Thus the name has been re-appropriated to restore its natural and social connotations. The designers did not put their hopes in government assistance, but rather relied on civic involvement to promote public art. The project reflects the creativity, cohesiveness and the capacity that is possible when hands join together to improve the social and human environment.