san josé | costa rica


In many Latin American and Caribbean cities, a number of trends promoted the growth of “satellite towns” within metropolitan areas: fast expansion of the urban footprint, shift in areas preferred by residents with high income, and displacement of economic activities to the periphery; this was accompanied by an increasing level of abandonment of central urban areas. This trend has also influenced the historic city center of San Jose, which is losing its role as an economic and residential center. Currently it is going through a process of abandonment and depopulation as a result of unplanned, low-density growth. To the south of the historic city center the government of Costa Rica is planning to develop about twenty hectares belonging to the state into a project called “Ciudad Gobierno”—governmental center—including five different ministries; this raises new challenges in the south of the city center. One of them is the demand to establish a new centrality between the Gonzalez Víquez Park and the El Pacífico railway station. Also, traditional lower middle class neighborhoods like San Cayetano and La Dolorosa should be included by emphasizing urban development on a human scale and various forms of mobility.

Urban Strategy

The urban strategy proposes to contextualize the urban project “Ciudad Gobierno” within its direct urban surroundings, mostly through the creation of a new centrality in the area of the Gonzales-Víquez Park and the railway station El Pacífico. Within an area of around 20 hectares, the integral plan for “Ciudad Gobierno” will act as a catalyzer and driver of redevelopment. Under the plan, more than half of the area will be dedicated to office, commercial and housing uses, including social equipment such as schools and rehabilitation of patrimonial buildings. The largest part of the remaining area, around forty percent in total, is projected as zones without any construction where open green and recreational public spaces can be created.