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Parque Urbano Isla Cautín

Osvaldo Moreno & Martinez Asociados

Temuco, Araucanía Region, Chile

January 2023


Osvaldo Moreno Flores (Architect and Project Director of Architectural and Landscape Design)


Verónica Gárate (Landscape designer), Claudio Martinez (Architect), Nibaldo Zelaya (Architect), Patricio Cornejo (Architect), Fernando Enríquez (Architect


SERVIU (Servicio de Vivienda y Urbanismo) Araucanía Region


Philippe Blanc


Conceived as hydro-ecological infrastructure for urban resilience, the park is designed to reclaim the riparian landscape of the Cautín River, promoting a significant impact in hydraulic, ecosystemic and socioeconomic terms at the communal and regional levels, contributing to the multicultural integration between Mapuche traditions and contemporary Chilean society.
Its spatial structure is defined by a large central lawn – containing wetlands, floodplains, grasslands and woodlands – and a programmatic ring around its perimeter, with a series of public accesses, thematic squares, multifunctional services and recreational areas. All these programs are connected with a pathway system, that also allow the compartmentation of the hydro-ecological dynamics.
A sequence of floodable meadows, canals, ponds, and wetlands retain and infiltrate urban runoff, contemplating a total retention volume of 78,000 m3, corresponding to a 100-years return period (T100). Proposed as nature-based solution to reduce the risk of flooding, this system is made up of earthworks that accentuate existing depressions. Its landscape design integrated gradients of riparian vegetation that favor habitat conditions for animals, birds, amphibians, and beneficial insects, providing biodiversity and important ecosystem services.
On the other hand, as a multicultural public space, the park has been designed to promote social integration in a regional context characterized by historical ethnic conflicts with the Mapuche communities and human rights violations during the military dictatorship. To this purpose, the program includes ceremonial and commemorative sites to promote the Mapuche traditions and also to make visible the collective memory of the victims who lost their lives in the 1970’s.


Cautín Island Urban Park is a public space of 28-hectares located in the city of Temuco, on the riverbank of the Cautín river, an important hydrological and ecological corridor of the Araucanía region, in southern Chile. Its “island” denomination refers to its condition of “dry land” between two watercourses - the Pichicautín stream to the north and the Cautin river to the south - that have historically caused flooding in the city. A problem that has increased in intensity in the current context of climate change.
The park is located in an environment that is symbolically important to Mapuche communities, due to the cultural meaning of the river and ecosystems considered sacred for the medicinal properties of trees and riparian plants. Its location also coincides with former army training camps, whose restricted use has contributed to the conservation of native forest and grassland ecosystems in the midst of accelerated urban expansion processes that have fragmented a large part of the original riverine landscape. On the other hand, this use allowed traumatic events that occurred there at the beginning of the military dictatorship in 1973, related to the detention and execution of political prisoners.
The landscape project of the Cautín Island Urban Park emerges in this environmental and cultural framework, in which the ecological memory of the site is linked to historical and contemporary socio-cultural dynamics, in a regional context characterized by ethnic conflicts related to the coexistence of the Mapuche cosmovision with the Chilean-occidental way of life.


At present, Cautín Island Urban Park is considered as the most important, inclusive and versatile public space in the in the complex territorial context of Araucanía region, attracting a high presence of visitors from different neighborhoods of Temuco as well as from different towns and cities in southern Chile. Progressively, the park is also becoming the main urban space for hosting mass events, such as concerts, fairs, cultural and sporting activities.
Furthermore, the analysis of a season of hydro-meteorological events since its inauguration in April 2022 shows that the behavior of the park as a hydro-ecological infrastructure has been highly successful, not only from the perspective of its efficient water management capacity, but also because of the social and cultural appreciation that people have given to nature-based solutions.
The park is currently a hub for various emerging environmental education, research and innovation projects, which are being developed through collaboration agreements with universities, public services and other local governments, giving rise to multiple initiatives related to water efficiency, agro-ecological management, composting, carbon sequestration, climate change adaptation, environmental mitigation and compensation, among others.
In this sense, it is possible to point out that the effects of the open and collaborative design strategies implemented in the project phase have positively transcended to the current moment of operation of the park, contributing to the sustainable management and governance of its spaces, programs, resources and ecosystem services.

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