It was decided to respect the traditional layout of the colonial cities, but with rectangular blocks instead of the traditional square-shaped ones. The construction of skyscrapers was limited, with the exception of four lots, which are occupied by a building used by a telephone company, an insurance company, two apartment buildings called El Faro (the lighthouse) and Le Parc (both are still being constructed), and the Hilton surrounding area. It was imposed for the rest of the area a façade style in accordance with the one that prevailed in times of the old port. This restriction is an imposition for the private companies that bought land here. Public spaces also need to be respected, and property owners need to maintain their upkeep.
In its first stage, Puerto Madero was a continuation of the Catalinas North Project, a continuation of the city proper. Advancing from the north towards the south, the first part that was refurbished were the antique docks, situated on the west side of the canals, next to the Avenida Madero. There, in the 90’s, restaurants and bars began to open, the majority very exclusive, and this area became a symbol of the flush economy of that decade.
The entire neighbourhood is dedicated to women: the streets are named for great Argentine women, its day is the 8th of March (International Woman’s Day) and the most representative architectural work is the Woman’s Bridge, a pedestrian bridge that links the west and eastern sides of Venezuela Street. It is a draw bridge, like all that are found in the port, and was designed by Santiago Calatrava, the award winning architect from Valencia, Spain. It is said that it imitates the posture of a woman dancing tango. An interesting fact: the bridge is the private property of the owner of the Hilton Hotel, Horacio González, who maintains it, even though it is open to the public.
If you walk the from the north to the south, you will finally arrive at the beautiful Nature Reserve of the Costanera Sur, with its beautiful park: the park Micaela Bastidas. It was designed by a group of architects, Marcelo Vila, AdriánSebastián and Javier Vila. It is a green space that is important for a variety of reasons. There is an area of plazasin the lower sector and a grand path in the upper sector, with wide sidewalks and esplanades,and in the future statues will be installed to complete the design. The plazas are unique and there are large trees towards the southern coast and an important rose garden as you head towards the western residential area. There are also jungle gyms, with different games for each age group, and many wooden benches if you want to rest, read or sunbathe. And the river breeze is always fresh and agreeable.
A pending challenge is the integration of the area with the rest of the city. There are many factors that complicate this assimilation:
You have to “cross the frontier” of Avenida Madero, which also separates the area under the jurisdiction of the port police from the jurisdiction of the regular police.
There is no public transportation system.
The building numbers do not coincide with those of the rest of the city.
While the goal is that it will be one neighbourhood more, for the moment it is difficult to accomplish. Also, there appears to be a sociological frontier: the new residents of Puerto Madero like feeling that they are in “another city,” close to the downtown but also isolated from its problems: noise, pollution and crime.
Special thanks to Natalia Westberg, of Eternautas, for sharing useful information and for her beautiful guided tour.