Okuplaza, Santiago, Chile

Okuplaza San Diego is one of the first in a series of urban interventions that reclaims urban space for the people. After the closure of this street intersection due to construction, Ciudad Emergente, the initiator of this project, took advantage of the opportunity and used participatory strategies to recover this underutilized urban area and turned it into an active public space through tactical urbanism actions.

The information on this project was compiled by students from the University of Geneva as part of the Urban Futures Workshop (full report).


Through Okuplaza they wanted to trigger a debate about new ways of prioritizing street space in favor of pedestrians, cyclists and local neighborhood businesses. By turning this street into a park for the people to sit, enjoy and relax, they envisioned this short-term action to have long-term impacts on planning processes and the use of public spaces. The hope was also that this newly transformed space would stay after the testing month.

Implementation period: The project was set up in 12 hours.
Time life of the project: 1 month
Achieved / on going: Achieved
Cost: Low, as they mainly used upcycled materials
Status of land: Public
Type of place: Street intersection, temporary parking lot

Man at the Okuplaza in Santiago © Ciudad Emergente
Man at the Okuplaza in Santiago © Ciudad Emergente


Ciudad Emergente is the initiator, owner and coordinator of this project. However, the requests of their projects come from the public, private sector, or others. They collaborated with:

  • Universidad del Desarrollo School of Architecture (more than 300 students helped realise the project)
  • Santiago Municipality, co-organiser and sponsor of the project
  • PlantaBanda, an organisation that also uses a participatory design to recover underutilised urban spaces mainly through gardening
  • Tecnología Sustentable
  • Ministerial Secretariat of Transport and Telecommunications.

Target audience

Local residents, shop owners, pedestrians, cyclists and anyone who wanted to enjoy the space.

Type of actions

  • Reversible intervention
  • Participatory process
  • Experiment and prototype for other urban upgrades in the city

Citizen participation

The initiator of the project was Ciudad Emergente, however the requests of their projects come from the public, private sector or others. The citizens of Santiago were actively involved in the co-design, mobilization and appropriation of Okuplaza and more than 300 university students helped to realize the project. Citizens also gave feedback through social media and where possible they immediately adjusted the park accordingly.

Type of intervention

  • Urban design intervention: using upcycled materials, urban furniture and paint
  • Re-appropriation of the urban space: a park for the people
  • Social intervention: spontaneous gatherings, dancing and other recreational activities
  • Economic intervention: Okuplaza brought back clientele and boosted local businesses


It served as a prototype for other similar urban interventions in the city. Not only did they replicate Okuplaza in other parts of the city, but also in other countries in Latin America and even in the United States. This placemaking intervention was unique in its use of the public space and helping the citizens reclaim their right to the city.


The short-term goal of people enjoying the space and boosting local businesses seems to have been achieved. The long-term goal was also at least partially achieved. Alejandro Plaza, Urban Area Director for the Santiago Municipality, said that it was a good initiative, but that they needed to improve communication both internally and externally as many people had no idea what was going on. It served as a prototype for future Okuplaza projects and they replicated the project throughout Santiago and (Latin) America. Whether urban planning processes have changed is hard to say. A negative externality was that people stole stuff from the park at night.

Okuplaza San Diego, Santiago © Okuplaza
Okuplaza San Diego, Santiago © Okuplaza


Ciudad Emergente
+56 2 2929 4993
Santiago de Chile
Clemente Fabres 1176, Providencia, Región Metropolitana



  • Type of action : animation / évènement
  • State : Cloturé
  • Starting date : Oct. 3, 2013
  • Starting date : Oct. 4, 2013