Archiprix Conference March 2009 Workshop in Montevideo Uruguay

10 Day research workshop held at the biannual Archiprix Awards for the best worldwide graduate projects, in 2009 hosted by the University of the Republic Uruguay.    Archiprix

The workshops bought international architectural graduates together to design urban interventions and present to the conference. In Montevideo 2009 the theme was water. Christopher Procter ran a workshop on sea level rise and implications for the urban seafront.

We  identified three particular conditions of Montevideo’s seafront; La Ramblas Sur, the seawall road along the southern edge of the original walled city, Punta Carretas, a low rock peninsula with lighthouse which ends the major north south axis, and the series of easterly beaches starting with Playa de Los Pocitos. Sea level rises were plotted in 5m increments with topo maps of the city. It was clear the seawall would be threatened, Punta Brava peninsula would be submerged, and high seas would flood the beaches.

01 La Ramblas Sur

Proposed was a new seawall as a promenade undulating in and out of the old seawall. This higher second wall would form a “salt water moat”. High waves would break against this higher wall. A diminished amount of water would spill over into the pool space between the two walls.

02 Punta Brava

Proposed was to allow the peninsula to be submerged but mark it with an iconic tower.  This tower would be built solidly on the rock below where the lighthouse once was and rise through the high water. This major Boulevard north south urban axis Bulevar General Artigas would continue as a raised pedestrian stairway access to the tower. The tower would become a new symbol for the city. The Palacio Salvo tower in 1928 the tallest building in S. America was a possible Zeppelin terminal. Taking this as a cue we proposed the tower to be part of a new South American airship network. Zeppelin

03 Los Pocitos

Proposed new floating beach islands anchored across the beach cove narrows. These would provide beach area as the existing beach sand would be greatly reduced with higher sea levels. These island hills would be accessed from the higher city ground via flexible elevated bridges. The floating beaches would act as storm breaks in high seas sheltering the seafront property from storms.


The research was presented through mappings, drawings, and models.

City Structure Mapping- Four key urban elements were mapped, Main Roads, Highest Densities, Recreational Areas, and Landmarks. Shown here as composite

yellow- Main Road Arteries

green- Recreational Space

pink- Highest Building Density

blue- Landmarks


Sea Level Mapping- The city plan was mapped at different levels of sea rise, 0m, 5m, 10m, 15m.

Putting this in context

At the peak of the last ice age 20,000 years ago, the sea level was roughly 120 meters lower than today with global climate colder by 4-7 degrees C.

During the last warm period, the Eemian interglacial era of 120,000 years ago, the sea level was roughly 2-6 meters higher with global climate warmer by 1 degree C.

At Pliocene era 3 million years ago sea levels were 25-30 meters higher with global climate warmer by 2-3 degrees C.

The water stored as ice in the Greenland Ice Sheet and the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet could both individually raise sea levels in the order of 6.5m each.


Proposal Mapping- The 3 proposed interventions were mapped diagrammed in red on the black and white map of Montevideo.


Models- The 3 sites studied were also presented in model form. The area modelled shown as the dotted squares. The models were used as a device to suggest narratives of these new interventions.

Rather then design architectures we wanted to use local materials to suggest possibilities. We visited the local street market to source materials for the models. The sea and beaches were represented with local leather. Hair clips and bands became pylons and walls. A mate straw became the escalator up to the Zeppelin tower. The zeppelin tower was made from coloured breakfast cereal rings set on a cork base.


The book published by Archiprix of the student projects submitted for the awards and exhibition.




Research Leaders

Christopher Procter – Project Workshop Leader

Marina Campos, Carolina Gazzaneo – Local Facilitators


Research Students

Francisco Abreu

Adrian Aviles Montano

Catherine Blum

Eilidh Henderson

Andrew McEwan

Matthew Murphy








The South American Zeppelin route was the first regularly scheduled, nonstop, intercontinental airline service in the world. The Graf Zeppelin crossed the Atlantic 136 times from 1932-1937 with a regular biweekly service from 1934. It was a 5 day journey from Germany to Brazil (Rio) with connecting airplane flight to Buenos Aires.  from Dan Grossman’s thorough and information Zeppelin blog.