Downtown San José Celebrates Urban Sustainability

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    Costa Rica’s Center for Urban Sustainability takes World Cities Day a step further, introducing La semana de las Ciudades.

    The capital of Costa Rica is observing World Cities Day on October 31st, but has decided to make its celebration even bigger. La semana de las Ciudades — or “The Week of the Cities” in English — consists of seven days of activities in San José which started yesterday, Monday 26 and will continue until Sunday, November 1. This festivity hosted by Costa Rica’s Center for Urban Sustainability (CPSU) will offer a free events such as movies, music, games and more.

    The Director of CPSU and the organizer of the activity, Andrea San Gil, says The Week of the Cities is trying to raise awareness of CPSU’s presence in the country, because while it’s a new organization, they have important work to do.

    [quote_box_right]San Jose is reviving! Learn about other work being done to unify its citizens: Leaders in Community Development Speak Out About Social Exclusion.[/quote_box_right]

    San Gil discovered the United Nation’s World Cities Day last year and decided that she wanted to create a Costa Rican version in 2015. Due to the low budget, this year’s activities were designed to be accessible to both the public and CPSU. The idea is to simply make people think and talk about how to change the city for better.

    The Forums

    Yesterday kicked off the week with a film forum named The Human Scale. Today another movie-forum will take place featuring Urbanized, and on Wednesday: Bikes vs Cars. Each starts at 7pm at Amon Solar.

    For those uncertain about which movie-forum to attend, San Gil describes the events:

    • The first movie The Human Scale, talks about how the cities weren’t designed for the people but for the cars, business, etc. In this one, we start seeing the cities and public spaces being made for people through better urban design.
    • Urbanized talks about the more relevant urban architects and designs of today, teaching the things each are doing different for refining cities.
    • And the last one of this film-forum talks about the permanent fight between bicycles and cars and how hard this is becoming as cities evolve — but also how much things transform it is when [a balance is] achieved.

    Intelligent Cities Panel

    Next in the week, on Thursday at 6:30pm and Friday 9pm, a conversation about intelligent cities and possible tools for increasing quality of life within them will be hosted at the Colegio Federado de Arquitectos de Costa Rica.

    The Panelists are:

    • Víctor Montero — architect, founder member and president of the Council Association for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
    • Manuel Salas — consultor of NAMA Urbano Costa Rica
    • Mauricio Varela — software engineer with mastery in interaction design

    Urban Rally City Adventure

    Saturday the 31st is the Urban Rally. It begins at 10am at Hotel Presidente and ends there as well. Participants will play trivia while traveling around San José. The route is a mystery; questions will provide hints from destination to destination. This adventure can be made on bicycle or foot.


    Finally on Sunday, November 1st, get ready for three hours of good music. This concert is in Amon Solar at 4:00 pm and will feature some of Costa Rica’s top musicians like Los Waldners, Monte and Señorita Abril.

    [pull_quote_center]“We created the concert because we wanted to rescue a part of the quality of life in the city… We wanted a vision of sustainability that was more than just green, but that integrated culture too.”[/pull_quote_center]

    What is wrong, what is right, what do we want to change and how can we make it happen?

    According to San Gil: “The principal objective is to make a better life in the cities for the people. This can be done from the themes of culture to those of public spaces, from trash management to transportation, from water to local economy. We want to take it a step further than this notion that sustainability is simply to be ‘green’ and work the other colors of the city that need attention too.”

    CPSU wants to see activities like those of this week repeated every month, with a larger celebration held annually in observance of World Cities Day. Moving the celebration to other provinces in Costa Rica and maybe even to other countries is also a possibility, explains San Gil.

    Attending Cities Week

    Amón Solar is in the same building where the popular bar El Sótano is located. The majority of this celebration will be held there on the second floor. In the building, participants will be able to buy food during the movies. El Sótano will also offer safe parking for those attending by bike.

    All the activities are free to attend, but a freewill donation to CPSU is suggested.

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