Oscar Bragos – Alicia Mateos – Silvina Pontoni

Taller de Urbanismo – Facultad de Arquitectura, Planeamiento y Diseño – Universidad Nacional de Rosario




This paper is an analysis of recent transformations in Rosario periphery and in small towns around the city. The case of study is Rosario west side and its urban extension into two towns: Funes and Roldán. This study is  part of a research project developed by the authors with the financing of the Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica and CONICET.

New residential developments in Rosario, their impact in social and urban forms, their connections with new public works and with new technologies, are analysed. Interviews with developers as well with residents is the main methodological resource .

The case study shows the new social character of periphery and how the technology (computing, telephone) did not impact in people’s way of life. The conclusion is that the space did not shrink, but enlarged.




Gated communities appeared in the seventies as a new feature of suburban process in Argentinean cities. This new situation has come up only in Buenos Aires metropolitan area, mainly in the Northern Zone, during the past 20 to 25 years. San Isidro was the district where the first gated communities were constructed. They were located adjacent to the most consolidated urban areas in order to facilitate the access to urban services (infrastructure, communications, accessibility, amenities). At that time public enterprises provided urban services, which were insufficient and inefficient  (ROBERT, 2000)

In the last years, the development of gated communities around Buenos Aires has been amazing. It is assumed that this situation is the result of an inclusion strategy of high income sectors, which find in gated communities the place that offers them not only security but it is also considered as the symbol of winner’s place. That is to say the place inhabited by those people who have not been affected by the recession and the severe social transformation in the country. (WORTMAN, 2000)

Apparently, this moment of expansion has finished. A new one has arisen: the stagnation phase. The overestimated offer of lots, the lack of job as well as of education and cultural amenities in the surroundings of gated communities, are apparently the reasons for the rise of the stagnation phase. The investment’s expectations in central city also contributed to this rising. (RODRÍGUEZ, 2001)

In Rosario, gated communities are completing the extension of urban area, also in small towns that have always been the place of weekend houses. Many years ago, the inhabitants of Rosario has followed the trend to settle in small towns of the periphery while working in the central city.

So, gated communities come up when this trend of looking for new places as permanent residence was consolidated. The tendency started 5 to 6 years ago, when medium income sectors were looking for better environmental conditions to live in. In small towns like Funes and Roldán, the same services supplies could be found at better prices than in an ordinary Rosario neighbourhood, plus bigger lots, more “green” spaces and better landscape features.

Improvements in accessibility conditions also contribute to the development of this hidden demand. The construction of the first stage of Rosario – Córdoba highway and of Rosario – Victoria Bridge over Paraná River changed the feature of Rosario’s periphery and the surrounding towns. New land prices, new land uses and new morphological situations in the edge of the city gave place to a profound heterogeneity, with less order and a scattered periphery. (MATEOS, 1999)




Few years ago, housing in the periphery was reduced to social housing complexes and lotisments that were built by the owners, and have few services. There were also few shantytowns and industrial and depots installations. The exception was Fisherton, an old and traditional neighbourhood for medium and high income sectors. The rest of the periphery was, undoubtedly, the “non city”, or the city without urban values. An area where low income sectors lived in scattered neighbourhoods. Scarce and poor public spaces, deficient services and diverse housing conditions were the main features of these urban sectors.

In last years, some changes appeared in the periphery, such as: supermarkets, malls, sport clubs, new urbanisations and gated communities. Now, the main feature of the periphery is the mixture of different social and housing conditions. It is a process of valorisation of the periphery, the place where new urban spaces can be designed, leaving back the idea of “non city” and giving place to new urban values. (MATEOS, 1999).

Fisherton is the most remarkable example of this new situation. It is a rectangle of about 10 sq. km., a patch where different urban and social situations exist side by side: the traditional neighbourhood, standard neighbourhoods, social housing, gated communities and shantytowns.


3. The new residential developments


Only two big real state agents are developing the new types of residence in the west side of Rosario. In this sense, the following types of constructions can be found:

Gated communities: they imply a layout project and, in some cases, the construction of a community building. Fences of different types (from green fences to brick walls) demarcate the boundaries. They have strict systems of surveillance and access control. Examples: Aldea Country Tennis, Aldea Country Lagos, Aldea Country Golf, Carlos Pellegrini Country Club. In Funes, Kentucky Club de Campo, Funes Hill, Altos de Funes

Small housing groups: They imply the execution of housing groups in small fractions (less than one hectare). Developers have chosen condominium as the legal figure for this kind of housing. They are housing prototypes. A recognizable gate defines the boundary between public space and the housing group. Example: Hostal del Sol.

Urbanisations with integral project: it is a complete layout project with construction of prototypical housing according to the users' selection. There is not definition of physical boundaries and urban streets layout continues. Example: Lomas de Fisherton, Portal del Bosque.

High environmental quality urbanisations: developments based in a traditional urbanisation of big lots that imply afforestation actions. They have special building conditions regarding surface and the type of construction. Example: Portal de Aldea.


Picture 1: New types of residence in Rosario










(front side – surface)





PRICE ($/sq.m.)



Aldea Country Tennis


21 Hs.

103 lots

30 - 1.200 sqm

5 %


Under construction

Aldea Country Lagos


22 Hs.

110 lots

30 - 1.200 sqm

1 % 


Under construction

Aldea Country Golf


40 Hs.


260 lots

30 - 1.200 sqm



Under construction

Carlos Pellegrini Country Club


Vanzini S.A.

22 Hs.

120 lots

15 - 600 sqm

95 %




Built (consolidated)


Lomas de Fisherton

Vanzini S.A.

10 Hs.


220 lots

10 – 300 sqm

41 %



Under construction


Portal de Aldea


40 Has.


250 lotes

30 m de frente

1.200 m2 sup.

50 %


Under construction

Sources: data provided by developers.


Gated communities

The development of gated neighbourhoods has involved in our city three developers: Aldea S.A. (Country Tennis, Country Lagos and Country Golf); Ing. Spirandelli S.C.A., that develop Carlos Pellegrini Country Club until the year 1994 and Vanzini S.A., which is managing the development of the last one since 1994. So, new residential developments involved only two developers.

Carlos Pellegrini Country Club

It was the first development of this type in Rosario. Not successful in its beginnings, today it is completely consolidated. This development (ran by Spirandelli S.A) began in 1978, but the municipal authorization was obtained almost sixteen years later, in 1994. The delay of getting authorization and the indifference of its potential buyers (users, interested) determined the sale of the whole neighborhood to other developers in 1994: Vanzini S.A.. This firm gave the urbanization a new impulse using a new marketing strategy. With the municipal authorization and new investments the lots’ prices immediate increase.

This neighborhood is connected to an exclusive club. The project of the urbanization has an atypical layout, 220 lots (500 sq. m.) occupied at the moment by 120 houses (many of them occupy 2 or 3 lots). It doesn't have services of common equipment because the neighbors agreed not to build them. The common services are security, rubbish collection and maintenance of public spaces. The common expenses are similar to those of an apartment. It has an architecture commission that evaluates the projects and striic regulations regarding the use of  lots and  the construction of  houses. The current land price is between 180 and 220 U$S / sq. m., although the high prices there are very few lots available.

Their original residents belonged to sectors of high and medium-high income, although in the last years the economical situation of some of these families has worsen. Recently families of growing medium-income sector (belonging to directive levels) have move to the neighborhood. Multinational companies rent about 10% of the houses for their executive staff.

To place the neighborhood in a higher level, the firm remarked the following characteristics: its integration with an exclusive club, a new way of life in contact with nature, a carefully designed urban landscape, afforestation, and security. In last years, the possibility to obtain the title deed has also been promoted. The other urbanisations of this type cannot offer this condition because they are not legally approved.


Gated communities developed by Aldea S.A.

Aldea S.A. has been operating in the city during the last twenty years. The firm has bought big parcels at a low cost. These parcels are located on the basin of Ludueña Stream, and at the moment of the acquisition were qualified as flooded land; the execution of hydraulic works has changed this situation. There were also small shantytowns that have been gradually eradicated by the developers.

The firm has four developments in the west side of Rosario. Three gated communities, and an open urbanisation. They are also the landowners of other big parcel in the area, which will be assigned to a new one open urbanisation. They have also other fractions, separated from this group, but near it . All of them are linked to the basin of Ludueña Stream.

Social groups, clearly defined as medium to high income young families with children, are the target of these types of urbanisation. Now, these families live in the central area, in their own apartments, and are looking for bigger spaces to live and contact with natural landscape. They are also members of resident families of Fisherton, and want to live close to their relatives, keeping the original way of life, but they cannot buy land fractions there because this traditional garden suburb is already totally consolidated.

The bigger gated community, Aldea Country Golf, is under construction, with service networks only. The other two (Aldea Country Tennis and Aldea Country Lagos), are in the marketing phase, with very  few residents.

All the parcels have the same size in order to meet the requirements of present by-laws. Building conditions are: minimum built up surface, type of roof, fences and disposition of the house inside the parcel. 

Infrastructure services are: street pavement, water supply, drainage and sewers, electricity, natural gas, public illumination. Gated communities have similar social equipment. They have a clubhouse and sport community spaces (tennis, paddle, football, golf). All these neighbourhoods have private surveillance and general maintenance. Close to them, there are two private schools under construction.



Close to a social housing complex, Vanzini S.A. (urban developers since 1958), projected the construction of a new neighbourhood (Lomas de Fisherton) to be carried out in three phases with different variations ant the same target. A neighbourhood for young medium class families with bigger spaces expectations, more “green” and quiet urban life. Marketing strategies are oriented to prove that a change in men’s way of life is possible.

The first phase was urbanisation and housing. In this case they offer medium size lots (260 sq. m.) and 13 house models (from 2 bedrooms and one bathroom to four bedrooms and three bathrooms) to be selected by buyers. This whole area, about 220 lots, is under construction and now ninety families are living there. It is not a gated community but it looks like it. They have two common services provided by the developers: security and grass keeping. 

The second phase, also under construction, is a traditional urbanisation, but with some requirements: the presentation of a house project, the compromise not to use neither the lot nor the house with commercial purpose.

The third phase, in the middle of the other two, is the mall to be built along the main street only when an important amount of potential customers live in the neighbourhood.

A similar project is going to be developed in the future by the same developers in a parcel close to Aldea’s gated communities: Portal del Bosque.


There is only one neighbourhood that has these conditions: Portal de Aldea. It is a traditional urbanisation with similar dimensions, near to  Aldea Country Golf, and developed by the same landowners. It has a high percentage of sold parcels that have already been built and occupied. Building requirements are the same of those in gated communities and also have private surveillance.




Social segregation and gentrification (elitización)

New hydraulics and drainage works (in Ludueña basin), new road connections, new malls and recreational amenities and also new residence developments give Rosario periphery a new urban condition and therefore, a new value.

At its beginnings, gated communities were built close to low-income residential areas and shantytowns. Carlos Pellegrini is a good example of this. To the south side there was a shantytown, and a brick wall was built. Anyway, in last years one of the two developers (Aldea S.A.) has started negotiations with these residents in order to move them to another places, “cleaning” the land for new investments.

In other hand, other developers, like Vanzini, whose target was low-income sectors, offering urban parcels without services, has now adopted modern marketing strategies. Due to new urban regulations those developments are no profitable anymore, therefore they have aim at another social sectors developing gated communities like Carlos Pellegrini and another urbanisation with integral project (Lomas de Fisherton).

Periphery, in the west side of Rosario has got higher economic and symbolic values. Families with low income have moved to another places, in Rosario or in other towns of the metropolitan area, looking for cheaper land, which is sold there by the same developer. In this way they let medium and high-income sectors the opportunity to occupy the place.



Social fragmentation adopts a new form: the rising of clusters of homogeneous groups (social condition, education, age, family type, and ideal way of life).

“Lomas de Fisherton” is a good sample of this. The inhabitants of this neighbourhood form a social group strongly homogeneous of argentine medium medium-high class: young families (parents between 30 and 39 years old); children –nor more than three- mostly in primary education in private schools; secondary school background in both, men and women (only 20 %, men and women also, has University background). Most people work in shopping (and most of them are owners). Only 10 % work in his profession, while 30 % of women are housekeepers.

The search of realm and a house with garden and yard have been the reasons to select this neighbourhood, and also the possibility of long financement. Most of the people want to live in similar places with social prestige, but in those places where realm and “green” conditions are possible, such as Fisherton, Alberdi or the gated communities. “Green spaces ” are, in all situations, more appraised than security.


Way of life

Improvements in telephone system and computing did not influenced the way of life of “Lomas de Fisherton” residents yet. There is a PC per family, with e-mail and Internet connection. But this did not change day-to-day life. The space did not shrink, it has enlarged. Most of the residents work in downtown or in other places of West Side, such as banking, health and education. To reach these places they have to make at least 2‑3 trips per day and per family (work, education, shopping). There is only one car and a portable phone per family.

Globalisation changes are introduced in Argentina in a different way. Social transformations (enrichment of the wealthy, impoverishment of medium and low-income sectors, increasing of marginal sector) have signed these changes; where new technologies are expensive though considered to be a way of getting fast and better benefits for urban services enterprises. This is the reason why these changes only contribute to develop social inequities and not taking profit of them to create a new way of life  for the population. 




Key: in yellow gated communities, high environmental quality urbanisations and urbanisations with integral project in Rosario (west side), Funes and Roldán.

Sources: BRAGOS, 2000.




BRAGOS, O. (1999): El nuevo mapa de la periferia en la ciudad de Rosario. Santa Fe, Segundo Coloquio sobre Transformaciones Territoriales, Asociación de Universidades Grupo Montevideo.

BRAGOS, O. (2000): Transformaciones territoriales y ordenación metropolitana. Florianópolis, Tercer Coloquio Internacional sobre Transformaciones Territoriales, Asociación de Universidades Grupo Montevideo

BRAGOS, O.; KINGSLAND, R. (1999): Plan Director y transformaciones territoriales. Montréal, Canadian Institute of Planners Conference “The City and its Region”.

BRAGOS, 0.; MATEOS, A.; PONTONI, S.; VASSALLO, O. (2001): Nuevos escenarios metropolitanos y ordenación urbanística. Rosario, Sexto Seminario Internacional de la Red Iberoamericana de Investigadores sobre Globalización y Territorio.

MATEOS, A. (1999): La transformación de la periferia en el área metropolitana de Rosario. Nuevas tendencias de mercado y políticas urbanísticas. Montréal, Canadian Institute of Planners Conference “The City and its Region”.

MATEOS, A. (1999): Transformaciones recientes en la periferia de la ciudad de Rosario. Identificación y caracterización de procesos y tendencias. Santa Fe, Segundo Coloquio sobre Transformaciones Territoriales, Asociación de Universidades Grupo Montevideo.

ROBERT, F.G. (2000): “La gran muralla: aproximación al tema de los barrios cerrados en la Región Metropolitana de Buenos Aires”. En: Mundo Urbano, N. 1 (mayo).

RODRÍGUEZ, C. (2001): “Barrios cerrados: hacia el fin del boom”. En: Mundo Urbano, N. 11 (junio).

WORTMAN, A. (2000): “Buenos Aires está cambiando: entre los consumos culturales y los barrios cerrados”. En: Mundo Urbano, N. 3 (julio).