Buenos Aires, Argentina | C.1943

Photo Credit: Joaquin Oñate

On the surface, the beachfront landscape of Pinamar is nothing to marvel at. But, if you look a little closer, between the tall blue surf of the Atlantic, the expansive beige beach and the lush green forest of pine trees lies a set of meticulous plans that created this Argentine oasis–a refuge for humans and nature alike.

Before 1907, when the Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway opened a station amongst the desertous dunes of Los Montes Grandes de Gaucho, Pinamar wasn’t exactly high on many travelers’ bucket lists. In the ensuing three decades, the railway brought increased tourism – so much that Valeria Guerrero, who owned much of the dunelands, commissioned architect Jose Bunge to reforest and urbanize the duneland, creating the foundations of the town as we know it today. 

While nature had created the sand dunes as organic barriers to keep the Atlantic at bay, Bunge reasoned that a little human ingenuity could transform the barren beaches from a protective seawall into an ecosystem of harmony between human and nature. And so, Bunge began a process of afforestation – growing forests in a place previously inhabitable to trees. He planted mostly pines, which is where the name Pinamar comes from: a portmanteau of “pine” and “mar” (Spanish for sea). Along with an intentional city planning scheme (read: no tall buildings), a seaside oasis was born.

The result is unmistakable – and uplifting. Pinamar’s dedication to blending the natural with the human, to take an area inhospitable even to flora and create a natural paradise exemplary of what intentional urbanization can look like: human and nature in harmony as opposed to a commercially-industrialized scar upon the land, as can so easily happen. One thing’s for sure: if Bunge, the creator of Pinamar, was still alive today, we’d buy him a pina colada.

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