An ambitious classical town rises in Guatemala
In the midst of a sprawling Latin American metropolis, a small town currently under construction recalls the urbanism of a previous era.
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Beyond its historic center, Guatemala City is an automobile-oriented, sprawling metropolis of 4 million people. Amid suburban gated communities, a new traditional, classically-inspired town named Cayalá is being built — to a level of quality that many will find astonishing. Designed by Leon Krier, who planned Prince Charles’s Poundbury in Dorchester, England, Cayalá opened its first phase in November 2011.
In Guatemala City, a developer is granted freedom far beyond what is possible in the US, Canada, and other highly developed countries. A project is less hindered by codes that tend to strip unique character from most modern developments. Yet even with that freedom, the urbanism outside of the historical city center has generally been of poor quality. Unusual vision and determination are also required to build something like Cayalá.
The town was master-planned in 2003 by Krier with the Guatemala-based firm of Estudio Urbano for the local development company Grupo Cayalá. In 2006 and 2008, charrettes fine-tuned the plan and determined the architecture of the buildings. In addition to Krier, Pedro Godoy and Maria Sánchez of Estudio Urbano (both alumni of the University of Notre Dame) and Richard Economakis, a Notre Dame architecture professor, have worked out the design details.