Melanie Ford

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Rice U.

Grant number

Gr. 9898

Approve Date

October 24, 2019

Project Title

Ford, Melanie (Rice U.) "Remaking Ravines: Design and Conservation in Postwar Guatemala City"

Deep, naturally formed ravines cover forty-two percent of municipal territory in Guatemala City. The ravines (los barrancos) are either unseen or ignored as natural nuisances by city residents. They are described as physical borders that disconnect Guatemala City; opportunities for garbage dumps that are out of sight; housing for gangs, violence, and the city’s poorest; as well as precarious locations where damages from natural disasters are felt the most. In 2006, the municipality reclassified ravines as an ‘ecological belt’ of Guatemala City, identifying them as sites in need of conservation as well as an opportunity to make the city a socially equitable metropolis. This new attention has turned ravines into a city-space that architects and urban planners regard as the physical manifestation of social inequality in Guatemala City. Focusing on encounters between ravine residents, state urban planners, and private architects, my research examines how these three stakeholders negotiate design plans that on the one hand, attempt to transform ravines into sites that resolve Guatemala City’s social and environmental issues, and on the other hand recognize and foreground ravines as unique cultural and physical traits of Guatemala City’s urban and postwar identity.