Shanghai – The first International Award for Public Art was announced in Shanghai, China, in the presence of professionals in the field from around the world. The award went to Tiuna el Fuerte Cultural Park by Lab.Pro.Fab, Caracas, Venezuela, a self-initiated project by Alejandro Haiek Coll and Eleana Cadalso. Jurors for the award called the project “a vibrant work of creative genius.”

Tiuna el Fuerte Cultural Park

This self-commissioned project encompasses an emerging collective cultural movement led by architects and artists, which is focused around the development of a park on an abandoned parking lot. 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 artists 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.