City of the Lake in the Clouds
THE ECOTOPIA 2121 PROJECT OUTLINES THE FUTURES OF 100 CITIES AROUND THE WORLD AS THOUGH THEY'VE SOMEHOW SURVIVED AND PROSPERED BEYOND THE PRESENT CLIMATE CHANGE CRISIS. THIS WEEK, WE FOCUS ON THE PERUVIAN CITY OF PUNO.
On the shores of Lake Titicaca, thirteen thousand feet above sea level, an enchanting city of one hundred thousand people is nestled. The city is noted for textile crafts made from alpaca wool and for a magnificent condor monument that overlooks the lake.
Welcome to Puno, the folkloric capital of Peru. Puno is way up in the Andes, thousands of feet higher than the old Inca capitals of Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Here, the air is thin, there are few trees, and there are also few cars—partly because the area between Lake Titicaca and the mountains is so minimal there is hardly any space to build a road. Today, Puno is known as “The City of the Lake.”
Offshore, on Titicaca’s surface, there are floating artificial islands made of reeds. These islands are handmade by the Uros people, and upon them they build their village homes, which are also handmade from the reeds.
The Uros originally adopted this style of architecture for defensive purposes, since in centuries past they were able to evade capture by Inca armies when they floated their villages out in the middle of the lake. Because they have lived on the lake like this for centuries, the folklore of the Uros is imbued with stories about floating, escape, as well as freedom and survival.
Puno 2121, as presented here below, is an extension of these ideas. A floating settlement emerges above the clouds, fashioned from the textiles woven out of alpaca wool.
Although the Uros believe Lake Titicaca to be sacred, they also acknowledge that it is rapidly deteriorating. The water level is receding every year because of decreasing annual rainfall. It’s also becoming polluted, as cities around the lake dump more wastewater into it every year, degrading both the reeds and the fish stocks. To lessen their impact on their sacred lake—or to escape the attention of new armies—some of Puno’s Uros residents, as imagined in this scenario, rise into the skies in anew settlement that floats high in the clouds, in the realm of the condor.