Mejillones is characterized by an uneven development between its residential and industrial sectors and there is a clear absence of general services, such as banks, schools, service centers, pharmacies, cafeterias, etc. Equally, there are few attractive residential options, to the extent that technical personnel and higher-paid employees working in the industrial zone of Mejillones prefer to live in the city of Antofagasta. This situation is contrary to the likelihood that Mejillones will become Chile’s largest port between 2012 and 2015.
Due to the above, GasAtacama has hired an architectural company (Hok, from the USA), who are world leaders in their field, for the purpose of coming up with an urban development plan that will not only draw industries to Mejillones, but also transform the current situation, based on the following objectives:
- Consolidate Mejillones as a coastal settlement choice in Chile’s Second Region by developing residential areas, the industrial port and tourism.
- Initiate new residential districts.
- Take advantage of the geographical and natural resources of the bay.
- Restore the historic quarter of the settlement.
- Redesign potential usages of the central Mejillones waterfront.
- Research and present an ‘Urban Development Plan’ for the interior plateau behind the Bay.
- Develop tourist and seaside bathing areas.
- Increase the ecological and recreational options for the community.
The objective of this project is:
- Integrate a more balanced urban plan.
- Provide the community with large green spaces and public spaces.
- Focus commercial and public services on the town’s main high streets.
- Use an urban design feature to separate the industrial and residential sectors and site services and facilities used by both zones there.
- Change the planning permission within the urban zone from ‘industrial’ to ‘industrial uses’, and thereby satisfy the real estate market by creating new residential neighborhoods.
- Delineate residential development according to three elements:
- A waterfront area.
- A park.
- An industrial zone.
The ultimate goal of the program is to provide the community with public spaces that connect the distinct zones of the town that can also increase the quality of life for the inhabitants in general.
This program has a strong touristic aspect, which incorporates a variety of public spaces that will enable inhabitants to enjoy the imposing landscape of the Bay of Mejillones. Bars, restaurants and a variety of services complement this objective and maximize the potential of its beaches. The renewal of the seafront area for residential use will allow for maximum enjoyment of the natural beaches at Mejillones, and will provide the axis that unites from north to south, the park, the boulevard and seafront, ending with the quay.
Another important aspect worth mentioning, is that this project seeks to be completely self-sustaining by using features, such as solar panels for energy, water recycling for the irrigation of green areas, and natural air flows for ventilation, thus incorporating all the elements and variables into the architectural design, as well as using recycled materials.
The study carried out by the Hok Architectural Firm confirmed the undeniable potential of Mejillones and its imminent growth. The work carried out by GasAtacama and Hok, in conjunction with the Municipal Authorities of Mejillones, has laid the foundation for the Urban Development Plan for the city of Mejillones. The analysis of all the information gathered allows us to suggest design strategies that will benefit the current population, as well as focus the community’s growth and future development, and its relationship with the environment.
A key factor that must be highlighted is that the engine of all potential growth here is industry. Its great impulse for urban development founded on the energy sector and its supply industries for copper mining, in conjunction with the mega port of Mejillones, undoubtedly fire demand for housing and services, which is currently not being met. It is this unsatisfied market that provides the multiple opportunities for the community’s development.
Our mission, in conjunction with the local authorities, is to identify key projects, so that Mejillones can satisfy all its present and future needs for growth. We hope to contribute to the creation of an Urban Development Plan that can satisfactorily provide for the co-existence of industrial developments, as well as conserve the rich historical and cultural heritage and exploit all touristic wealth, to ensure that Mejillones becomes an integrated and sustainable city.