Urban Voids in Medium Size Chilean Cities

'Different events have created lack of unincorporated borders in the cities. They are interior islands without activity, are forgetfullnes areas, converted in un - habitated, in - secures and in - productive. At least, these are strange places in the urban structure. Mental exteriors in the physical interior of the city, where they appear like another image of the same place, as in the sense of its critic, as in the sense of its possibility' - Ignasi Solà-Morales1

Void: Lacking of physical and mental content.
Urban: Belonging to the city.

So, the definition of urban void could be: Residual Void placed in the urban limits of the city.The theorical definition of the concept has been explained by Eduard Bru and Ignasi Solà Morales as: "Everything that last after the growth of the cities, the most conflictive places". (Bru, 2001) From another point of view, Solà-Morales clasified these places as: "In - productive and in - secure areas. About their emplacement, this is relative to the city and the characteristics of its growth, geography and unuse buildings". (Solà-Morales, 2000) Understanding the term as an empty space located inside the urban limits, focus in the reduction of density and in the space break phenomenon, excluding parks and green areas; the urban void could be a need of the city and its space relations, an absence in the urban conditions: context, programme, grid, texture and the urban - territorial relation.

Phenomenological Voids

"Phenomenology means the study of the "phenomena". It's what appears in the conscience, it means to explore just what is there, the thing that it's thought, the one that it's talking about". (Lyotard, 1974) Maurice Merleau-Ponty in The Phenomenology of Perception (1945), refers to phenomenology as a study of the essence of phenomenology, and that all the problems are reduced to a definition of essences: essence of perception and then essence of the conscience. The phenomenological void could be defined as a place that has been characterized by context and history that are now outside the realm of urban functionality, growth and transformation (i.e. natural disasters, wars, etc.) The phenomenological void is an individual event within the city, it builds itself by its own phenomena, its own facticity. The attack on the twin towers of New York on September 11th, 2001 was a terrorist event that destroyed an important place of the city. In Chaitén, a south Chilean city, the eruption of the Llaima volcanoe in June 2008, destroyed the whole city. The events were different, but the resulting voids are similar.

Functional Voids

Some cities were organized around a downtown core. As time has passed, and industry change many of these cities have faced declining populations and decreases in density. Having fallen into disuse since the 90s, these vacant or underutilized structures are often used by wineries or other industry as warehouses. The American cities of Detroit and Philadelphia are examples of these situations as well. The site of the ex Cerrillos airport is placed on the west side of Santiago. The growth and expansion of the city around this area, left the airport surrounded by new development, so it had to be moved to another location. This change of altered patterns of use within the city. Its understanding, not only in terms of materiality, but location and history are necessary when attempting to (re)integration these kind of voids into functional urban space.

Geographical Voids

Physical geographic features such as hills, rivers and valleys have generated voids in urban space. In the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil, there are a lot of dry "pools" in the periphery. In August 2008, a workshop was held in Brazil in order to receive proposals for the use of these geographical voids, one of the projects proposed a watery circuit which connected these voids by filling them with water in the winter. In summer, these voids would be available for supporting public activities and recreation such as soccer fields, game areas, etc.