City, culture and urbanism

Learning from Asuncion



master plan, community participation, collaboration, public policies, Asuncion


This article examines the formulation, implementation, and reasons for suspending the Master Plan of the Historic Centre of Asuncion (PlanCHA), Paraguay. Instead of a traditional master plan, the winner proposal of the international competition organized by the country’s National Government in 2014 is a master process composed of dozens of top-down and bottom-up participatory actions, articulated by ten initial strategies. The research carried out on PlanCHA is part of investigations ongoing at Nomads.usp, the Center for Interactive Living Studies of the Institute of Architecture and Urbanism, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, on participatory decision-making processes in the context of urban interventions in several cities around the world. As in the case of Asuncion, we prioritize urban intervention plans that, in addition to face-to-face actions, include digital participation platforms. The research on PlanCHA aimed to understand the issues involved in the implementation of an action plan that included and depended totally on the participation of public managers, politicians, non-governmental organizations, universities, real estate agents, and traders for its success, in a capital city whose population has virtually no experience of participation in public decision-making processes. Finally, the article lists some hypotheses for the Plan’s interruption, categorized for administrative, political, and socio-economic reasons. We interviewed the winning office team in Madrid and the partner team of Paraguayan architects who implemented the project locally. In Asuncion, we also met historians, members and former members of the National and Local governments, real estate agents, community representatives, cultural producers, residents, and academic researchers. We made several technical visits to the Asuncion Historic Centre and studied historical, urban, demographic, academic, and journalistic documents.


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