LATIN AMERICA / Hydroborders ●
HYDROBORDERS. The South America Project

Hinterland Urbanisms
Andean Hub


Research and design
Luis Callejas and Mason White


Harvard GSD / University of Toronto
The project started in October 2011 and the development phase will last until 2014.
It compromises a series of international studios and projects in association with Lateral office.

About the network:

The South America Project (SAP) is a trans-continental applied research network that proactively endorses the role of design within rapidly transforming geographies of the South American Continent. SAP specifically focuses on how a spatial synthesis best afforded by design can provide alternative physical and experiential identities to the current spatial transformations reshaping the South American Hinterland, in particular fast paced modes of resource extraction and an unprecedented regional integration at a continental scale (primarily through roads, energy grids, fluvial corridors, and telecommunication networks). Launched by Felipe Correa and Ana María Durán Calisto, with the support of the Department of Urban Planning and Design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, and the Loeb Fellowship, the project brings together a broad host of academic insitutions, scholars and designers from diverse fields, in order to create a projective platform that can allow for Architecture and the diverse disciplines affiliated to the constructed environment to actively partake in proposing more comprehensive models of urbanization for South America .

> > go to SAP network portfolio of projects




The IIRSA Andean Hub is defined by a north-south corridor crossing Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and
Venezuela. Some 104 million inhabitants occupy the region of the Hub, yet the IIRSA projects are centered in
remote undeveloped border conditions. This reinforces the emergent hinterland urbanism quality. Our research
and proposal into the possibility of contemporary infrastructure in this hub yields two essential observations:

1. Border stations are an opportunity to reconsider how energy, specifically hydroelectric, is stored, distributed and catalytic with development, and 2: the north-south orientation of the hub and its attendant geography, allows for a linear energy corridor. We call these the “power station” and “superline,” respectively.

WEATHER = WATER = POWER. Ten percent renewable sources of energy, established as a worldwide goal for 2010, is already a reality in Latin America, but that has been achieved mostly through large-scale hydroelectric dams. Around 23 percent of Latin America’s total primary energy supply comes from renewable sources, including hydroelectric dams, according to the ECLAC study “Energy sustainability in Latin America and the Caribbean: the share of renewable sources,” published in October 2003. Likewise, the Andean region is rainy, yielding some 2500mm annually in more than 30% of its territory.

Although precipitation is unpredictable. What if an infrastructure were able to flex and anticipate river flow and rainfall dynamic? The overarching ambition of
our proposal is to produce a new model of energy hub that integrates border conditions and ecosystems. Water
becomes the binding element of energy, nature, economy, and hinterland eco-development.
POWER BORDERS. Significant to the suite of investment projects planned for the Andean hub, we have identified the following as offering the most potential for new innovative design thinking: border stations, electricity and interconnection, and hydroelectricity stations. The possibility exists to intersect these investments to yield a new model of border crossing and subsequently, a new border energy city. IIRSA is currently seeking: 3 new border stations and 2 power connections at the border of Venezeula and Colombia; 2 border stations, 3 power connections, and 1 hydro-electric stations at the Colombia and Ecuador; 2 border stations, 1 power connection,
and 2 hydro-electric stations. Each of these three border conditions offers the catalytic need and opportunity for
the first “power stations” in the Andean superline energy system.

ANDEAN SUPERLINE. With the Pan-American Highway providing a model for linear infrastructure, the opportunity
for a linear power corridor is potent. The Andean superline would be served primarily by hydroelectric
stations and power connections.
In response to the already increasing hydropower in the region, the Andean superline could bundle and integrate
other renewable energy sectors such as solar, wind, and geothermal.

BIODIVERSITY. The Andean Hub is a significant ecologically sensitive region, with over 25% of the world’s
biodiversity. One way to address this is to conceive of the superline simultaneously as a protected landscape –
even a monitored and managed ecosystem that safely integrates infrastructure and habitat. Each power plant and energy source will be evaluated economically and environmentally. The sites with low or bad rating will no be connected to the super line. If the superline is efficient, the low-rated powerplants will only serve for local power generations and will be phased out in the near future.