The UFCo. Project

The research project examines territorial and spatial arrangements related to the operations of the United Fruit Company (UFCo.) in the Limón Caribbean. It is divided in four axis: railway geographies, enclave architecture, agricultural landscapes, and modes of life.

The spaces of the United Fruit Company. (project brief)

Our project examines the infrastructural compositions, secluded agricultural settlements—enclaves— and typical architectural forms resulting from the operations of the United Fruit Company (UFCo.) in the hinterlands of the province of Limón, within the Caribbean region of Costa Rica, between 1890 and 1930. We seek to explore possible entanglements between railroad construction, spatial organisation, land administration policies, massive agricultural practices, environmental control strategies, building technology application, climatology, and labor regulations present in these spaces. Through the systematic review of archived materials, including cartographies, blueprints, photographies, and correspondence, we will perform an interdisciplinary analysis aimed to identify propensities and architectural characteristics in these spaces. Our work aims to make a direct contribution towards architectural and environmental histories in Costa Rica. We argue that our analysis could cast partial light over the current proliferation of industrial parks, tech campuses, free trade zones, and special tourism areas in Costa Rica. By focusing exclusively on the UFCo.’s spaces, we expect to exhibit how the operations of transnational corporations have had a historical tendency to impact matters of environmental and territorial sovereignty through the establishment of particular spatial configurations and through the introduction and use of certain infrastructural artifacts and architectural forms.

Researchers: M.Sc. Andrés Jiménez Corrales (geographer), M.Sc. Luis Durán Segura (anthropologist), Dr. Emily Vargas Soto (post-occupation expert), Dr. Natalia Solano-Meza (architectural histories).

Participants, research assistants and collaborators: Valeria Ramírez (School of Architecture), Esteban Espinoza (School of History), Carolina Guzmán (School of Geography).

Thesis students: Zetty Alonso (School of Architecture).