Polígono Central: a memory of the future

Polígono Central: un recuerdo del futuro

Dialog moderated by Emil Rodríguez Garabot (architect, urban planner) // Conversatorio moderado por Emil Rodriguez Garabot (arquitecto, urbanista)
El Polígono Central is a contradictory object. On one hand, as a consequence of the suburban expansion that started in the mid 60’s, it is attached to the memory of it´s natural landscape and tropical utopia. While on the other hand, it presents itself as a mirage that projects the current obsessions and aspirations of the uncertain future of the middle class, and an intense capitalism. Any attempt of conciliation would instantly become a promise.
The conversation seeks to illustrate the functional logics of this sector, where urban and social infrastructures are on the verge of collapsing. Will it be possible to reconnect El Polígono Central with the city of Santo Domingo?
Emil asked each of the participants to bring an image or object that will help explain the Polígono Central as an isolated object.
El Polígono Central de Santo Domingo es un objeto contradictorio. Por un lado, como consecuencia de la expansión suburbana de mediados de los años 60’s, está atado a la memoria de su paisaje natural y a la utopía tropical , mientras por el otro se presenta como espejismo de un presente que proyecta las obsesiones y aspiraciones del incierto futuro de la clase media y de un capitalismo exacerbado. Cualquier intento de conciliación se convierte instantáneamente en una promesa.
En este conversatorio buscaremos ilustrar las lógicas de funcionamiento de este sector hoy, ante la amenaza de colapso de sus infraestructuras urbanas y sociales. ¿Será posible reconectar el Polígono Central con la Ciudad de Santo Domingo?
A cada uno de los participantes se les pidió que llevaran una imagen u objeto con el fin de trabajar la idea del Polígono Central como un objeto aislado.

Domingo Contreras, politician, environmentalist.
In the 60’s, the urban footprint that we now know as Polígono Central was basically green; in its plots single-family housings with gardens in the front and backyards were being built. Today that footprint has been inverted; as of the 90’s the transformation of urban ground has sped up, endorsed by ordinances without environmental regulations, where government institutions have relinquished public land for the construction of private buildings.

Rosy Ramos, art curator, co-founder of Ramos y Mederos Gallery.
Urban transformation in the Polígono Central is the result of a self-centered lifestyle that had its origin in contemporary society at the beginning of the 60’s. A period when an empty aesthetics promoted the reconstruction of an ever-growing exuberant body. The bid for verticality is exemplified from the parallelism between the new buildings of the Polígono Central and the use of artificial implants. Opening a window to question from different fields, how urban space is generated.


Eduardo Villanueva, choreographer, journalist.
An anecdotal vision narrated by a person born in the 50’s, when the center of Santo Domingo was La Ciudad Colonial and the Polígono Central was a field on the outskirts of the city. Telling his adventures and movements in this urban conglomerate, he shows us certain nostalgia for the historic zones of the city, where he currently resides, and a certain alienation from the Polígono Central, where he currently works.


Raúl Recio, visual artist.
Through a performative attitude, he suggests how the current real estate whirlwind is lead by the chopo dominicano condition. His speech questions the Dominican governmental machinery, where personal gain is favored over the common good, distorting the state’s capacity to educate.

Quisqueya Henríquez, visual artist.
Introduces the concepts and methodologies used in three of her projects that cover urban space and presents a speech where the question arises as to how power structures, social dynamics and the individual influence of the construction of urban landscape. Quisqueya’s explorations reveal conflictive situations in the city, which replicate throughout the rest of the city, including the Polígono Central, where she resides.

Ching Ling Ho Shum, architect, co-founder of the art gallery and architectual studio ELE7
It is a difficult endeavor to walk in the city of Santo Domingo, transportation is private and motorized. This urban condition has driven the proximity business for excellence, the Colmado, to include in its staff the Delivery, which is presented to us as an urban hero. This anthropological narrative maps the journeys and experiences of this figure who transits the streets of the city on his motorcycle delivering the orders without a minimum fee. This hero supplies the distribution of drinking water, since in Santo Domingo the water from public pipes is not apt for human consumption.














Tropical Launch @ Plaza Naco

Juanjo Cid reading our program. Photo: Maximo del Castillo

Juanjo Cid reading our program. Photo: Máximo del Castillo

Plaza Naco is one of the most emblematic group of buildings in the Polígono Central. It was named after its developer NACO, acronym that stands for Compañía Nacional de Construcciones (National Construction Company).  It represents the turning point to vertical growth in Santo Domingo. In 1968 La Cumbre was completed, a 12 story office building and a 2 story retail block (Naco I). By the end of of the 70’s it was consolidated as the first shopping mall of Santo Domingo (Naco 1, 1968; Galerias Naco, 1970; Plaza Naco,1976) replacing the tradicional comercial zone located at Ciudad Colonial (old quarter). In the 80’s, Plaza Naco was a place of splendour, where the emerging bourgeois went to shop and socialise. Towards the end of the decade the place went down on flames, giving way to its comercial decay. The south entrance of the mall was kept alive throughout the 90’s, thanks to the weekend gatherings of young people in front of the now vanished movie theatre Cineplex. This decade welcomed new bigger shopping centres which would substitute the emblematic Plaza Naco as a place of encounter and consumism.

Tropical Ghosts was launched on the 26th of september, occupying the aforementioned south entrance of the Plaza, dressing it up as a modern front yard gallery. A revival of the now lost encounters that took place twenty years ago, where semi-public space served as a site for the exchange of views and ideas.



Photo: Máximo del Castillo

Tropical Launch