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Puente de Emergencia

Federico Cairoli

A community fights to preserve humanity as natural disasters become the new reality.


Puente de Emergencia is a film by Federico Cairoli, showing a somber new reality for the citizens of the Chacarita neighborhood in Asunción, Paraguay. The film follows catastrophic flooding along the Paraguay River caused by abnormal summer rainfall leading up to the area's rainy season. Cairoli's thoughtful and observational approach places emphasis on the citizens' new way of life - revealing the inhabitants' daily struggles.

The inhabitants' lives have changed dramatically, and Cairoli chooses to express this change through a focus on the improvised bridge. Constructed of pallets attached to empty barrels and haphazardly nailed together, the bridge is the only entrance to the residents' homes, but it also poses as a tripping hazard that demands extra care when crossing. The bridge is as unstable as the inhabitants' lives. The camera bobs and shakes as people walk across the bridge and there is continuous maintenance being done to keep it floating. The maintenance can be heard - the only sounds that can be heard in the film are the 'CLANG', 'CLANG', 'CLANG' of hammers pounding nails into the walkway juxtaposed by children laughing and playing.

But life goes on.

The children's laughter is accompanied by images of children using the makeshift bridge as a pier to fish from. Cairoli captures a mother standing, surveying, and watching - as if she were back on dry land taking in some fresh air or looking after her children. And that clamor - the 'CLANG', 'CLANG', 'CLANG' - those sounds reveal how the Chacarita neighborhood has come together to respond to natural disaster.

Federico Cairoli's thoughtful and focus documentary style reveals life threatening struggles that the people of Asunción combat more and more often as natural disasters become more frequent. Puente de Emergencia inspires empathy as basic amenities and tasks that so often are taken for granted become scarce and dangerous.

(Story by Jacob Sas, The Architecture Player)

Authors icon Credits

Architect: Colectivo Aqua Alta
Mentioned project: Puente de Emergencia (2014)
Project location: Barrio Chacarita, Asunción, Paraguay

Paraguay 2014
Duration: 2'53''