Today The squares of the City of Buenos Aires overflow, you fill the height of your success. It is not necessary to observe them during a weekend. Every day, at any time, the uses overlap. They function as open-air gyms, where Zumba classes coexist with boxing or yoga classes. Sometimes they resemble a party room, with tables, colorful tablecloths, balloons tied to plastic chairs, and boys and girls eating from disposable plates, while singing happy birthday.
In the shade and in the grass, the squares can also have dynamics similar to those of a kindergarten, with parents glued to boys and girls, providing them with chalk, papers, books, toys, repellent, sunscreen, water or cookies. And then there are the usual uses and actors: the dog walks, the runners, the teenagers who form groups around a concrete bench, and the old women with golden skin trying to absorb a little more of it. Sun.
After 10 months living with the coronavirus, and with some rules learned such as frequent hand washing, the use of the mask, social distance and reducing risks in open spaces, life converges in the squares. In some parks the coexistence is more spaced, but in others, very tight.
In Boedo Square, everything happens together, almost glued. The birthday, the crossfit class, the fruit and vegetable fair, the gathering of friends, the family picnic, the turns to the merry-go-round, the yoga mats and the improvised kindergarten by a group of parents all happen within its perimeter . It seems logical that it should be so: in 500 blocks it is the only green space.
Boedo Square is the only square within 500 blocks around. Photo Juano Tesone
For some neighbors the possibility of moving their lives to that open corner is at hand. For someone who lives on Avenida San Juan y Virrey Liniers, the plaza is three blocks away. But in other cases, even if the person resides in the same neighborhood, the distances are lengthened. For someone who lives in Mármol y Garay, the square is two kilometers away.
“The lack of green spaces in the City of Buenos Aires It is a prior and structural problem, but the coronavirus pandemic made it even more evident, “says journalist and national deputy Gisela Marziotta, who directs the People on the Move Observatory, which in recent weeks evaluated how the urban organization can influence the Porteños ability to respect social distancing measures.
The study related three variables: the summer in the city, the increase in Covid 19 cases in the Capital and the lack of green spaces. Marziotta says: “Today being outdoors makes us feel a little more cared for, that’s why we move many of our activities there. We need that space to play ball with our children, to ride a bike, to see family or friends, ultimately to have a good quality of life, but space is very limited“.
During the pandemic, the squares became an outlet for the neighbors. Photo Juano Tesone
“Also this summer, for different reasons, fewer people will go on vacation and more will stay in the City. Then it will be even more exposed the need for outdoor space, especially in some neighborhoods like Boedo, Almagro and Balvanera “.
According to a survey made by the Observatory, this summer “75% of Buenos Aires residents will not go on vacation, unlike last year when 57% did.” And the report warns: “the combination of a small amount of green space, together with a large amount of porteños who will stay during the summer it cannot be good news to prevent coronavirus infections. “
In a summer when many people will not go on vacation, the squares become relevant. Photo Juano Tesone
In the City of Buenos Aires, 76% of the homes are apartments. Each resident has an average of 6 m2 of green, below international standards that recommend between 10 and 15 m2 per inhabitant. In the case of Buenos Aires, the registry also includes flowerbeds and squares that partially fulfill the main functions of a green space.
“But besides being insufficient, the green space is very uneven. In Palermo there is an oversupply but in Balvanera you have a 20 cm by 20 cm tile for each neighbor, “adds Marziotta.
Green spaces are a respite from the tight fabric of the City, but there are very few. Photo Juano Tesone
In Balvanera and San Cristóbal (Comuna 3) the index between hectares of green space per thousand inhabitants is 0.05. But Almagro and Boedo (Commune 5), according to the latest available data from the Department of Statistics and Censuses, is even worse: 0.02, the lowest in the entire City. In this last commune, 91.5% of the dwellings are apartments.
The pandemic brought a certainty: in outdoor spaces the risk of contagion is low. And in Buenos Aires, public green spaces are not enough for a city of three million inhabitants.