On a space of more than 8,000 hectares on the outskirts of the metropolitan area of Lima, lies the great hope of creating the first city of the 21st century, friendly to the environment, resilient to climate change and comfortable for its inhabitants.
An arid and barren Peruvian desert landscape with almost no vegetation or signs of life currently dominates the Bicentennial City, an unprecedented city of 3,000 million dollars that is projected totally from scratch in this inert place as a model to completely change the chaotic urban expansion of Peru.
On this space of more than 8,000 hectares, the last of public property with these dimensions that is on the outskirts of the metropolitan area of Lima, lies the great hope of creating the first city of the 21st century in Peru, friendly to the environment, resilient to climate change and comfortable for its inhabitants.
“Is it ambitious? Certainly, because it is an unprecedented experience for the Peruvian State, but it is going to be a formidable challenge, “Gabriel Quijandría, Vice Minister of Strategic Development of Natural Resources of the Ministry of the Environment, said in an interview with Efe.
The pharaonic project, where about 150,000 people are expected to live within the Lima district of Ancón, it seems more typical of a Middle Eastern country like Dubai or Saudi Arabia, although with a fundamental difference, according to Quijandría.
“The Emirates projects are a creation out of nothing of something quite artificial. (…) Here the idea is that the city is integrated with the landscape, which has not happened in Lima, where the landscape has been invaded in very inappropriate areas, “he recalled.
Consequence of these developments on dry rivers These are the serious floods suffered by Peruvians in the El Niño climate phenomenon in 2017, as a result of heavy and unusual rains on the desert coast of Lima that generated large alluviums known in the country with the Quechua word “huaicos.”
Precisely, the design of the Bicentennial City, named for the 200 years of Peru’s independence that will be celebrated in 2021, will make it a priority to avoid this type of disaster and serve as a model for a sustainable city.
For this, it is intended to follow a radically opposite path to the absolute disorder that the growth of Lima has had, the fifth largest city in Latin America, whose population has skyrocketed in recent years to 10 million inhabitants.
Much of the increase in Lima’s population is due to massive migration from other regions of the country, especially from the Andes, since the time of the internal armed conflict (1980-2000) unleashed by subversive organizations such as Shining Path and the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA).
Until now, migrants from other regions of the country arrive in the suburbs of Lima, where they star what is known as “invasions”, They occupy hills and hills to erect precarious homes where there is only desert, without any public service, but where land traffickers proliferate.
The phenomenon is so numerous that it is a juicy barn of votes in times of municipal elections, since the candidates promise property titles and services such as electricity and water, which then forces the cities to expand up to those steep hills.
“Now we are going to test the reverse way in the decision-making process: from top to bottom, instead of bottom to top as before,” Quijandría said.
Thus, the enclave of the Bicentennial City, still pristine from any invasion, is “a blank page” to change this paradigm.
The essential thing will be to respect and save the upper part of the hills so that they are not filled with makeshift homes, as happens in other parts of the Peruvian capital. This will preserve a very particular ecosystem that has been protected since 2019.
During the winter those dry and bare peaks turn green by trapping mist and moisture that come from the Pacific Ocean and give rise to the Amancaes flower, an endemic and emblematic species of Lima, whose yellow color shines briefly for a few weeks.
In the lower part of the hills there will be a 2,000 hectare green belt trees “that serve as a recreation area but also as a buffer zone for urban impact and a connection with the natural environment,” Quijandría explained.