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Productive Encroachment : Growing Puerto Ayora one MANgrove at a Time, 2011. MArch studio with Professor Andrew Scott.

The city of Puerto Ayora is nestled in Academy Bay on the southern side of Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos. A coastal town, Puerto Ayora has been expanding northward in the direction opposite the sea, sandwiched between two multi-story high cliffs to the east and west. Tourism, however, has predominantly existed in the form of yachts and cruise ships docked offshore. As this lucrative industry grows, so will the number of hotels built within the city limits, thus pushing residential habitation into protected inland habitats. Although sensitivity to wildlife and valued vegetation remains a central issue no matter where development occurs, expansion towards the ocean can be viewed as an interesting alternative.

One major feature of the native coastline of Santa Cruz Island are the mangrove swamps, few of which remain in their entirety on this particular island. Touristic and urban development is one of the leading causes of destruction of the mangrove swamps worldwide, along with large scale shrimp farming, which has devastated large swaths of mangrove on mainland Ecuador. The mangrove, however, in its ability to inhabit the space between land and sea, is an extremely benefi cial tree both on the local and global scale. It provides a nutritious and protected habitat for young organisms, such as shrimp, slows wave energy and buffers against tsunamis, thereby assisting with erosion control, and mangrove swamps sequester carbon at a rate of 1.5 tons of carbon per hectare per year. Most interestingly, due to the natural propagation cycle of mangrove, they accrete sediment beneath their root structure, effectively producing land.

In investigating a way to develop along Puerto Ayora's coastline, the productive nature of the mangrove swamp is considered as a means for the city to encroach upon nature while simultaneously cultivating its growth. Tourism is the single largest industry on Santa Cruz and also the most sought after means of employment. Other industries such as farming and construction are less desirable as tourism is considered the most profi table. But local industry is sorely in need of reconsideration in light of how dependent the Islands are on imports from the mainland. Looking at hybrid models, there could be a way to combine industry, such as farming, with tourism to provide another option entirely. This project proposes such a hybrid condition in combining a small-scale shrimp farming facility with an agro-tourist resort. In this way, housing could be developed for
farmers who are also employed in tourism to provide the agro-tourist with a unique experience in the Galapagos Islands.