In February of last year, the Chilean town of Lota was devastated by an earthquake that incapacitated the water and power systems and led to widespread looting. This city of 50,000 people was already suffering from the closure of a local mine over a decade earlier. Today, Lota’s unemployment rate sits at 20 per cent, and an equal number of residents live in temporary housing.
To address these problems, students at the Institute Without Boundaries worked with the citizens of Lota, industry partners, advisors, and students from around the world to create a revitalization plan. People Change Places is a multiplatform record of the process and final strategies the students of IwB came up with. The program includes an exhibit at George Brown College’s Richmond St. School of Design, as well as a book and film documenting the course of the project.
People Change Places follows this year’s IwB class and a group of industrial design students from Carleton University, who first visited Chile in October 2010. There, they were joined by a group of design students from DoucUC Concepcion, a university in Chile’s second largest city, an hour from Lota. This research trip focussed on four major areas that would later become the foundation of their strategy: community, economy, place and communications. With these four areas of improvement in mind, the students partnered with residents of Lota to collect as much information as possible. At the end of the trip, students from IwB, Carleton, DoucUC, and a local technical college collaborated to explore ideas and receive feedback from the community on their plans.
Some of the strategies the team produced include a green corridor running parallel to the railway – providing a path for cyclists and pedestrians, a central bicycle-sharing hub, and a hillside neighbourhood development. These and other ideas are intended to revitalize the city in the short term, while contributing to long-term economic and social sustainability.
People Change Places opens Friday, June 3 and runs until July 29 at George Brown College’s School of Design, 230 Richmond St. East – Side Entrance.