Landscape architecture and urban design in Chile’s capital

Some urban spaces go beyond your typical public park, uniquely combining nature and architecture in the city context. Here are some of Santiago’s finest examples.

Santiaguinos often head to the green lungs of their city, particularly enjoying the oases of open space characteristic of its urban parks. But you won’t necessarily catch a break from the pulse of the city here. Urban parks are a hybrid of nature and city, so an atmosphere of vitality and energy are part of the package.

In these public spaces, the human presence is strongly felt, with joggers and fitness classes in Parque Bicentenario, performances and concerts at the amphitheater of Mirador Pablo Neruda and people admiring the array of outdoor modern art in Parque de las Esculturas.

Human influence is also decisive in shaping the character of urban parks with architects usually designated to design them through public competitions and then striving to make them both aesthetically appealing and practical.

Here is a selection of the most interesting examples in Santiago’s landscape architecture:

Parque Bicentenario, Vitacura

The different areas of this 30 hectare park in eastern Santiago have been carefully designed by Teodoro Fernández L. Architects. In this Savanna-like environment of widely scattered trees, well-kempt lawns, pristine ponds and meandering footpaths all work harmoniously as a symmetric whole, giving the sense that nature is in on the design game too.

Not only does this urban park itself exude a modern flare, the view from it isn’t half bad either. Park goers can look out at many of Santiago’s most important modern skyscrapers playfully reflecting the sun’s rays off their sleek exteriors.

Among the parks attractions are a playground for children, lakes with black-necked swans and flamingos, a restaurant on the far eastern side of the park and, of course, the wide expanse of grass that is great for picnics, jogging or admiring the view.

Mirador Pablo Neruda, Parque Metropolitano de Santiago

Inspired by the aesthetic principles of Pablo Neruda‘s nobel prize-winning poetry, air, earth and nature, the concept of this amphitheater is to combine performance with an intense panoramic view of the capital.

Located in one of the largest urban parks in the world, Parque Metropolitano de Santiago, and with a seating capacity of one thousand people, the project was designed as a public space by architects Carlos Martner and Humberto Eliach.

Several curved stone walls define the spaces around the stage and seating area. The gaps between these walls act as an intriguing frame through which the North and East views of the capital can be enjoyed in their full glory.

The space is simple but gives the impression of being well thought-out and those lucky enough to stumble across the theater will enjoy a moment of feeling on top of the city.

Parque de las Esculturas

Visited by over 100,000 people annually, this enchanting open-air museum can be found on the north side of the Mapocho River. Stretched out along the length of the green river banks, overlooking the Andes, the park is host to a variety of sculptures by renowned Chilean artists.

The park opened in 1986, designed by German architect and landscaper Bannen Jorge Oyarzun to rejuvenate the recently flooded area.

The permanent exhibition can be visited at any time of year and features works of more than 20 sculpture artists, such as Sergio Castillo, Raul Valdivieso, Juan Egenau and Federico Assler.

It is also the backdrop of the Providencia International Jazz Festival a renowned annual event drawing international acts to eastern Santiago since its inception in 2002.

By Daphne Karnezis