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BARRANQUILLA Architectural and Urban development

The University of Kansas School of Architecture, Urban Planning and Design Theory of the City Jesus David Pertuz Ricardo



INTRODUCTION Studiying this semester about the evolution and development of cities trhough time, in the course “Theory of the city” with professor Rene Diaz, these series of lectures and discussions led me to question myself about my hometown, Barranquilla, Colombia. How was it at the beginning? What were the economic, politic and social aspects that led us to the city we are today. Are we the product of a spontaneous growth or the product of a clear and judicious reflexion. What were the general concerns or the shared philosophy of society that allowed the city to grow physically and economically? and where are we going from now? Through this paper I will try to expose the social, economical, historical and political conditions that played a main role in the evolution of Barranquilla. I will associate the historical periods with its spatial and architectural expression in order to analyse the urban aspect of the city. I will enonce the most representative architectural and urban projects built within each period in order to identify their cultural and historical value. It’s my aim that at the end of your reading you will be able to understand how a primeval indian port became over a short period of time, the most important logistic platform in Colombia. This paper is a result of a series of lectures, personal readings, direct obsevation and bibliographic consultation.


HISTORICAL CONTEXT AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT PREHISPANIC SETTLEMENTS The initial settlement of northern South America was on the northern coast and in the lowlands, on the banks of rivers. There is an early human presence in the territory in which Barranquilla would form. Reichel Dolmatoff presents dates between 3100 and 3500 BC. C. in the middens of “Puerto Hormiga” and “Monsu”, in the “canal del Dique” between 600 and 1500 BC. C. In the “Ciénaga de Momil” and in the site of “Barlovento” near Cartagena. From there, the population continued to the interfluve areas and highlands. Carlos Angulo Valdés has shown that the tradition “Malambo”, originally from the Caribbean region in the current Atlantic department dates back to 1130 BC. C. PRECOLONY Contrary to what most people could think, Barranquilla was not founded by Spanish, as is the case of Santa Marta, Cartagena de Indias, or Bogotà; but formed spontaneously in the mid-sixteenth century on the edge of an ancient marsh parallel to the western bank of the Magdalena River near its mouth, by the conjunction of an Indian settlement and several Encomiendas. The first known human settlement in this location corresponds to the Kamash Indians. A population of about 60 people who disappeared because of the indian extermination by Europeans during colonial times. Early last century’s Archaeological studies from an accidental finding during an excavation for the tram in the area now known as Barrio Abajo, revealed their customs and ways of life. Apparently the Kamash had as main activities: fishing, shellfish fishing, fishnets manufacturing, tissues manufacturing and commercial trade with other tribes in the region. Their settlement pattern was dispersed, as evidence by the findings of re-

mains of houses and tombs in other parts of the city. No one knows for sure why the Kamash chose this site to settle. This fact probably reflected the geographical conditions, its closeness with the river, which almost certainly guaranteed the survival of the population. During this time the site was simply known as the Site of the Indians Camacho, or simply Camash. COLONY. Spontaneous development The first mention on the site of Barranquilla was written by Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo y Valdes in which he recounts the chronicles of Pedro de Heredia, founder of Cartagena. In this crhonicle, the reporter mentioned that Pedro de Heredia, in the month of March 1533 passed by the site of the Indians of Galapa and then went to the great river, where he stayed one night in a canoe berth occupied by Indian merchants. He claimed that these were Indians who came from the Santa Marta’s Governorship. They crossed the river to trade with dried shrimp, salt and other things. It is believed that this was the same place in which, years later, they would build their houses on the river’s banks marsh called “Sabanitas Camacho.” It was this commercial aspect that played an important role in the urban development of Barranquilla in which Indians gathered around their commercial

“L’aguador marchand d’eau à Barranquilla”. E. Riou, design based on a sketch of the author Engraving. 12 x 15.9 cm, white and black In: Picturesque Geography of Colombia. Lithography Arco, Bogotá, 1984.







Historically, it is given greater importance to the days of 1620, where the long summers, as still occurs in the region, let without water and dried the grass or herbs of the Galapa population. It made the natives’ cattle of that region instinctively seek the path for water and grass. People who arrived following the cattle were forced to build huts and cabins that over time would be called “Sabanitas Camacho.” (One could say that today corresponds to the site of Las Flores, Siape and the Via 40 surroundings ). “Une rue à Barranquilla”. Edouard André’s travel (1875-1876) Engraving. 12 x 15.9 cm, white and black In: Picturesque Geography of Colombia. Lithography Arco, Bogotá, 1984.

Already in 1773, the city had a village headman Don Lawrence Telles, who was in charge of the affairs of small claims and punishing misdemeanors.

activities. What began as a trading spot, became a permanent settlement when the Indians decided to settle on this site, representing the most important commercial crossroads of the region at the time. Another important aspect of the spontaneous development of this city dates back to the third decade of the nineteenth century when the areas surrounding the river began to be populated due to grants awarded by the Spanish crown. In the case of Barranquilla, th crown offered a land to Don Nicolas de Barros in 1626, who built a ranch called “San Nicolas” assigning at the beginning the name of Barrancas de San Nicolàs but being so small it was called Barranquilla de San Nicolàs. In 1629 despite not having a very large population, they had to organize themselves into streets and blocks. This date was agreed as the foundation of Barranquilla, according to the oral tradition which stablishes the year 1629 as the foundation of Barranquilla by Galapa farmers . The tradition says they moved to territories that now make part of the urban area of the city, known at the time as “Barrancas de San Nicolas”. However, in the mid-nineteenth century, the first concerns about the mixed origins of the city came up, one of them by Domingo Malabet. Because it is a myth made legend, people continued repeating it over and over again without having found any documentary evidence to grant

During colonial times, the area was known successively as the Indians site of Camach or Camacho, Sabanitas de Camacho, San Nicolas de la Barranquilla, Camacho Barrancas, Barrancas de San Nicolas, Barranquilla de Camacho and Barranquilla de San Nicolas. According to the census of 1778 the population of Barranquilla was barely 2,676 inhabitants. Given its spontaneous development, it had no greater commitment to a past of colonial ancestry and administrative importance as a port of defense and military center in the province of Cartagena was very minor. For these circumstances, it was a transit point for smugglers and traffickers who anchored in the cove near the village of Sabanilla to ship their goods by the Magdalena into the kingdom, constituting the headache of “Farmers from Galapa” Engraving. 12 x 15.9 cm, white and black In: Picturesque Geography of Colombia. Lithography Arco, Bogotá, 1984.

3 provincial authorities. If the Spanish regime had continued the evolution of Barranquilla probably would not have been so bright, but the Republic pointed to a path without peer. Until the late eighteenth century, the city had not given the importance it really deserved, perhaps because of their parsimonious and modest progress, but later when it starts to take advantage of its strategic location at the mouth of the Rio Grande de la Magdalena and on the Caribbean Sea coasts, it developed many advances compared to other cities which were older. From an architectural standpoint, the city doesn’t have colonial-style buildings, given their conditions of foundation and spontaneous development. However there is a rich architectural history since the twentieth century which we discuss below. INDEPENDENCE 1810 - 1823 Formed in 1811 the State of Cartagena, the captain became guardian Aguerra northern boundary of the river marking the border with the Province of Santa Marta and Cartagena placed site subtle forces to protect their river traffic. To the south, Mompox main port on the Magdalena into the country and second largest city of the state, completed the protection of the river boundary. Such was the support and commitment of Barranquilla with the independence in 1813, that on 7 April, the President Manuel Rodriguez Torices elevated to the category of “villa” and granted a coat of arms, the power to elect City Council, Mayor and other privileges. Although he received a severe punishment for peacekeeping troops that burned it to the ground in 1815. Achieved the independence, the small town of Barranquilla began a rapid development that had no equal anywhere else in the country. During this period Barranquilla, was noted for his patriotism, in 1813, General Pierre Labatut defeated the royalists who were in the old site and new site. On April 7, 1813, a date that later was institutionalized as the day of Barranquilla, the Cartagena

Independent Commonwealth PresidentGovernor, Manuel Rodriguez Torices, gives the town the title of Villa de Barranquilla, capital of Barloventos’ department; in recognition of the courage and patriotism of the people for their support in the defense of Cartagena de Indias independence in its struggle against the royalist Santa Marta. Barranquilla was the center of military operations of the Republicans from 1820 to 1821. On October 10, 1821 it was expelled the last Spanish stronghold of Cartagena de Indias, the then capital of the Sovereign State of Bolívar, which Barranquilla belonged to.

In 1821, the town had its first mayor, Agustin Del Valle, who completed his duties in his own residence, which was later converted in army barracks.

EARLY NINETEENTH CENTURY The urban layout of the population responded to the spontaneous settlement of its people. It is for this reason there are no traces of the colonial grid foundations. Similarly, there was not a central plaza, which also makes part of the colonial urban model. However, There was the square of the church of San Nicolas de Tolentino, patron of the town, located on the Calle Ancha. In 1824 he bought a plot of 30 yards next to the edge of the swamp, to build a public square where he could place the market of goods brought in canoes from different parts of the region. During this period, Barranquilla grew in concentric semicircles from the original center, the San Nicolas farm, wich were the starting point of three highways leading one to Sabanilla, the bay where it was the seaport, another to Galapa and Baranoa, and the third to Soledad and Malambo. The latter joined Sabanalarga height and heading to Cartagena. The first skirted the coast and also to the city headed to the wall city of Cartagena. According to Kevin Lynch in “Agreement with theory of good city forms”, 1981. This type corresponds to a star or radial finger model. The streets, more or less perpendicular to the swamp, distinguished with suggestive names, were connected to each other through other narrower called alleys. Notarial documents of the 1830 and 1840 and others, talk about the “Calle Real” ,mainstreet in town; the “de la Soledad” (now Calle 17) the

On July 24, 1823 was held the Naval Battle of Lago de Maracaibo, which definitely deposed the Spanish from the Grancolombiano territory.

4 The Paseo Colon, former Calle Ancha, 1880. José Ramón Vergara, Fernando E. Baena. Barranquilla, its past and present. Lithography Arco, Barranquilla, 1999.

most important, in which the notables had their homes, “la Calle Ancha” (now Paseo Bolivar) in which it was built the first church, St. Nicholas of Tolentino the most important in the city until the construction of the cathedral in the last century’s seventies.

Paseo Bolivar, trade and business center of the old Barranquilla. In the background, the missing building Palma.

Two districts made up the village: the oldest of San Nicolas and San Roque, where groups of foreign entrepreneurs who settled in the population set their dwelling. In one of its alleys lived prominent members of the Sephardic community thus it will be known as the Alley of the Jews.

Compared to the rest of the country, the Caribbean region, organized for some years as the large department of Magdalena - composed of the former provinces of Cartagena, Santa Marta and Riohacha - suffered a shift in concentration of population, which may be attributed largely to the destruction of Cartagena as a power center. While in 1778 the rePaseo Bolivar, trade and business center of the old Barranquilla. In the background, the missing building Palma.

Edward Walhouse Mark. Church of Barranquilla. St. Nicholas de Tolentino. 1844. Watercolour on gray paper. 12. 5 x 17 cms.

gion was the third territorial entity with 22% of the viceroyalty’s total population, in 1851 it had gone to fourth place, and although in absolute terms the population increased, its participation in the total of the country decreased to 13%. This is due not only to the human losses in the wars of independence, but because the pace of growth was slower than in other regions, which can be assigned to the conditions of poverty and limited economic opportunities that prevailed after independence, favoring migration to other regions. Barranquilla was the exception because, given its condition and its persistence as a river and maritime port it attracted immigrant groups, both national and foreign (English, French, American and Sephardic Jews who carried the Dutch nationality, Danish or German), who promoted local elites growth and unprecedented industrial development, placing it in the late nineteenth century, as the third largest city after Bogota and Medellin. From 5,359 residents in 1835 it passed to 40,111 in 1905, compared to 9,681 of Cartagena and 9586 in Santa Marta. However, most people were not wealthy, their houses were generally a one story unit, built with adobe and thatched roofs, situated on lots longer than wide, indicating the existence of large backyards. Surely they would be planted with shade trees and orchards in the region: gourds, corozos, guava, lemon, spices like achiote and medicinal plants like lemon balm and borage flowers that did not need constant watering. Chickens and other poultry would be accompanied by mischievous monkeys, tied at the waist with a belt or twine to a

5 stake so they do not escape. They would not lack the talkative parrot, a macaw another colorful and quiet patients the morrocoyas. The customs and social control were not as rigid as in other places which are largely due to the weak presence of the Church. The town was a parish dependent on the Diocese of Cartagena, which the Bishop never visited, run by an octogenarian priest, Father Antonio Maria Muniz, who had little influence over their parishioners Behavior patterns seemed governed more by the behavior of their leaders by church standards. The primeval neighborhoods of the city correspond to the current historic center (composed of the commercial center, and parts of the public market and San Roque neighborhoods, Abajo and El Rosario), the neighborhood Abajo del rìo (to the north of the center, known simply as “Barrio abajo”), and the neighborhood of Arriba del rìo (to the south, corresponding to the current San Roque and Rebolo). In the neighborhood “Abajo” it can still be found some of the primitive houses made out of mud and thatched roof. It is also an epicenter of carnival activities. In San Roque it can be seen the abandoned mansions of the wealthy families, and In Rebolo ancient and modern popular houses. Since there are no mineral or natural wealth in the geographic space of Barranquilla, the city was never an attractive site for the Spanish to justify a permanent presence. Its importance does not come until the second half of the nineteenth century, promoted by the loaned navigation on the Magdalena River to the German citizen

Ancient houses in the neighborhood “Abajo”

Juan Bernardo Elbers by the Liberator at the beginning of the Gran Colombia in 1823, route opened on 10 November 1825. On February 23, 1849, President Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera signed into law. 1 st July 1842, which authorizes Sabanilla Bay as a port for the export trade and settled there an office in the current Castillo de Salgar condition required for the commissioning of Sabanilla. By Act March 20, 1852, the Congress of New Granada province separated from the province of Cartagena the cantons of Barranquilla, Soledad and Sabanalarga, which formed the province of Sabanilla, with Barranquilla as capital. At the beginning of the United States of Colombia, the growing commercial importance of Barranquilla promoted the the Bolivar Railroad construction , between 1869 and 1871, first railroad of the present Republic of Colombia, between Barranquilla and Sabanilla (Salgar), where

“Gare de Barranquilla, ville principale de bas magdalena.” André Édouard Riou drawing from the author’s name Engraving. 11.8 x 15.7 cm, white and black In: Picturesque Geography of Colombia. Lithography Arco, Bogotá, 1984.

“Gare de Montoya Station, starting point of the railway line Sabanilla-Barranquilla opened in 1871, built by the Railway and Pier Company.


“Castillo de Salgar” Formerly a Spanish fort that serves as office for the douane.

residence of writer Álvaro Cepeda Samudio), the residence of Ezekiel Rosado, the Funeral home “Jardines del recuerdo”, the restored building of the Aduana, the former Commercial Bank of Barranquilla, the former Bank Dugand and Perla, among many others, mainly in the neighborhood of El Prado and in the historical center. Other noteworthy republican buildings are the Hotel El Prado (neomediterráneo), the Faculty of Fine Arts, Universidad del Atlàntico of the Atlantic and the River Municipality building. the Aduana was located. Due to the barely depth of the water, it was necessary to extend the railway to Port Cupino, where the Cuban engineer Francisco Javier Cisneros built one of the world’s longest piers at the time (second only after Southampton, England). THE REPUBLICAN PERIOD During this period, due to the politic and economic context of the country and the city, there was a series of projects that represented this new age of freedom and development.

So-called “style”, the Republican is the period of the history of architecture in Colombia between 1819, date of final independence of the country, and around 1930, which brings together different styles in the city as the neoclassical, the late Baroque Spanish and Neo-Mediterranean. Since the beginning of the twentieth century Former douane or neoclassical buildings were particularly welCustoms Housebuilding . Today come in Barranquilla. Among the outstandit hosts the Pilot ing neoclassical samples are the Instituto Library of the De La Salle, Villa Heraldo, the Corporaciòn Caribbean. Autònoma Regional del Atlàntico (former

La aduana Built in 1919 by British architect Leslie Arbouin, the Customs House was the epicenter of the economy in the period of increase of the transport system and river port activities. Its surroundings were located a number of physical structures that supported this activity: the actual river port, rail terminal connecting to the port, customs facilities, warehouses, managers offices. It was undoubtedly the center of local economic activity, until the opening of Bocas de Ceniza, the transfer of port terminal site of the present and the decline of river navigation when the zone suffers a detriment at the end of the 30 ‘s. In the last decades of the nineteenth century Barranquilla experienced a series of advances represented in the founding of the Society of the Aqueduct in 1877, the commissioning in 1884 of the tram pulled by mules, the installation of the first telephones in Colombia on of September the 1st in 1885 and that year the foundation of the first private telephone service company in Colombia, the Colombian-West Indian Company Phone by the U.S. citizen William Ladd. It is at this time that the city takes on greater economic importance for its commercial prosperity and its strategic geographical position, becoming the first seaport and river-port in Colombia. In the late nineteenth century, already stablished in 1886 current Republic of Colombia, Barranquilla became one of the 34 new departments, comprising the provinces of Barranquilla and Sabanalarga. During this time, the city establishes itself as Colombia’s main port and follow the path of progress made as the commissioning of the steam tramway in

7 1890 and the construction of the pier at Puerto Colombia in 1893, which served to Barranquilla port until mid-twentieth century . Goods moved by rail to Barranquilla, and then by river to the interior of the country. TWENTIETH CENTURY In accordance with the progress of the city and its economic boom, 28 June 1905 it is established The Chamber of Commerce of Barranquilla. On September the 7th, 1909 it is sent to the Congress the bill that recognizes the opening Bocas de Ceniza as a national necessity. In 1912, in Barranquilla takes place the first flight of an aircraft in Colombia. It was conducted by the Canadian pilot George Schmitt on December 1912. On 10 December 1919 it was created the first successful commercial airline in the Americas and second in the world, Scadta, transformed years later in Avianca. On June 1919, the U.S. pilot William Knox Martin and the industrial Mario Santo Domingo inaugurated Air Mail in Colombia with a flight between Barranquilla and Puerto Colombia, where Santo Domingo handed the bag of mail. Under the condition of sea and river port connecting with the interior and exterior, the city had become, since the second half of the nineteenth century until the early decades of the twentieth, one of the most cosmopolitan and multicultural of Colombia and an important entry into the country of foreign immigrants as Syrians, Palestinians, Lebanese, French, Germans, Jews, Americans, Italians, Chinese and Japanese, among others, who settle down in the city, streamline the industry and help to transform Barranquilla in a modern city. In this context, it is moved to Barranquilla the office of Salgar and it is constructed the building of the Douane Administration of Barranquilla between 1919 and 1921. Under the economic dynamism, entrepreneurial vigor of the city as well as for being a point of entry of thousands of immigrants and many advances such as aviation, the city receives from President Marco Fidel Suarez

the title of Golden Gate of the Republic. In 1925, the public enterprises of Barranquilla are the first to be founded in the country. The initial coverage of the aqueduct built in 1929 was 11 500 houses from a total of 14 000 in 1931 and in 1938, it was 18 050 homes. 80% of dwellings had drinking water, while in Bogota in the same year the aqueduct coverage was 59%, 57.3% in Medellin, in Cali 74.8%, 21.4% in Cartagena and in Santa Marta 36.2% . In 1927, the electricity service provided by Electricity Company of Barranquilla served the needs of 10 300 dwellings, equivalent to 74% of the total. On February 4, 1925, acquires Scadta superaviones Atlantico and Bolivar to cover the first international flights, which take place in August of that year between Barranquilla and Key West, Florida, with stops in Central America, Mexico and Cuba. In an era of significant progress for the city, was founded the first private commercial radio station in the country (the first station was the state’s Colombia Bogota HJN). Pellet Buitrago Elijah begins the commercial radio in Colombia with the first broadcast La Voz de Barranquilla on December 8, 1929. On August 16, 1933, the Senate approves the contract for opening Bocas de Ceniza, works that are finished in 1936, inaugurating the Barranquilla’s Maritime Terminal Barranquilla by the President Alfonso Lopez on 22 December of that same year, within a period of major construction undertaken by the central government with the intention of establishing a solid infrastructure that allowed the country and major urban centers to enter international markets. In 1935 he gives a major boost to the SCADTA airplane sport of the city with the construction on the Magdalena


8 of municipal football stadium to host the National Games III. However, the April 10, 1931, “in a mutiny against hunger and unemployment, the people of Barranquilla Colombia destroys the theater.” During the first half of the twentieth century Barranquilla had become the fastest growing city and urban population in Colombia. The city expanded to reach the neighboring towns, a situation that continues to the present (2008), and that led to the creation of The Metropolitan Area of Barranquilla, in 1981. Since the late 50’s until the 1980’s, the city is plunged into a socioeconomic decline largely due to the failure of the political class and the collapse of large sectors of industrial activity. In 1958 it is created the first free zone in Colombia. On August 18, 1993, Congress of the Republic of Colombia, through Legislative Act Number 01 of August 17, 1993, amounts to Barranquilla to the category of Special District, Industrial and Port.

Garcìa building, Manuel Carrera. Art Deco.

Barranquilla’s architectural history is written almost only in the twentieth century. In the city there are not buildings of the colonial period nor of the early decades of the independent and in developing nation , but the profusion of styles that flourished from the late nineteenth century gave the city a cosmopolitan atmosphere and sui generis in Colombia . This architectural splendor, reference for students of architecture in Colombia, responds to the status of port

and entry point to the country, mostly of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, of progress and people from North America, Europe, Middle East and Asia, many of whom settled in Barranquilla and imported architectural styles that are seen in the city. Among the most important styles are some neoclassical and art deco and interesting examples of architecture neomodernist, contemporary, eclectic, Mudejar, late Baroque Spanish (also known as California style), Mozarabic and Caribbean (type Netherlands Antilles). In some modernist buildings is perceptibly influenced by international architects like Oscar Niemeyer, Le Corbusier (who was in Ottawa at the end of the decade of 40), Leopoldo Rother, Mies Van der Rohe and Richard Neutra, among others that together make up an impressive architectural and urban cool. The Transition (1930-1945) Building Garcia (1938). Art Deco. This is a stage of pre-Colombian architecture Modern Movement which sought to styles other than the Republicans, as the art nouveau and art deco. In the city there are numerous art deco buildings, typical of the 30’s, as the stadium Romelio Martinez (1935), the Departmental Library (1945), the Rex Theatre (1935), the lately demolished Metro Theatre (1946, former Apollo) The building of the Eagle Brewery (1942), the building Kico (1948), the synagogue Shaare Sedek (1946-1947), the building of the Agricultural Exhibition (1936, later became Industrial School), the building Eckardt (1939 ), the former residence of Manuel Carrera Cuban architect in the Bellavista neighborhood, the building Garcia (1938), Teatro Colon (1946), the old building of Avianca (1934), the final four, designed by Manuel said Carrerá.216 218 219 The stadium Romelio Martinez was recognized in 1995 as a national monument by the Ministry of Culture, the first Art Deco building in Barranquilla to obtain this declaration. Modern Movement (1945-1970)


Colon Theater, Barranquilla Colombia. Art Déco.

All the modernity in terms of technology was accompanied by an urban and architectural development with no precedents for the city. Modern architecture is characterized by being free of ornaments that identify buildings of the Republican period, and a tendency toward concrete rationalist. Among the most valuable examples of modern architecture in the city it is included the National Building (1945), seat of the judicial branch, designed by the German architect Leopoldo Rother, Queen Mary’s Cathedral (begun in 1955) and the old building of the Agricultural Credit Fund(1964), located at the top of the Paseo de Bolivar and designed by architect Fernando Martínez Sanabria. Also, worth mentioning the buildings of the SENA, Atlantic Assembly, the elegant building of Telecom (with a sculpture by Alejandro Obregon in the square of access), the building of the Government of the Atlantic, the City Hall in the Paseo de Bolivar and the a former Republic Bank’s building. As urban development in Barranquilla during this period its worth to mention the construction of El Prado neighborhood because it is about talking about the most determinant urban footprint of the physical development physical and spa-

National Building and the elegant TELECOM’s building.

tial of the city in early twentieth century. “Maria Reina” Cathedral.

If cities are configured from significant historical events since its birth, it is clear that this intervention set the pace for further urban standardization and regulations. Residencial neighborhood “El Prado” Postcard 1938

Between 1920 and 1930, when the economic prosperity of industrial development and port of Barranquilla noted the difference with other Colombian cities, the American businessman Karl Parrish proposed building a new city next to the existing, a city that could exploit the advancement of Barranquilla and both are projected as a new alternative of life for the minority leader of the city that could afford it and maintain it, to have reference to European and American modern aesthetics. The urbanization of the Prado offered the possibility to settle in the material modernity. The customer could choose the piece of land to build his family house in an abstract geometric structure of streets drawn in a plane, on the developer’s commitment to provide all ancillary services considered as moderns for the urban life. The customer could, respecting the rigor of established standards, develop his housing project in response to the new languages

10 Mansion in “El Prado”. “so called republican style” (Neo-classical architecture)

El Prado hotel. Barranquilla, Colombia

of architectural modernism, understood at the time as what was new and cosmopolitan. Among the first built houses examples there were examples of simple architecture, one single story houses, in a stark and basic language, but the party of styles began later in the thirties. A free interpretation style, typical of European and North American suburbs of the early twentieth century, accompanied the architectural development of the neighborhood of El Prado and made it possible, along with what is considered modernisms associated with international projects, the apparition of Moorish, Italian, Greek, and French architectural languages. The final configuration of the built space Prado was paradoxical, for while it was consolidating its way through a modern management approach, prior consistent regulation, infrastructure investment, trade promotion and institutional management, however, the houses built by their owners produced a set of historicist tendencies, close to the real pre-modernism before the real modernism movement. Mansion in “El Prado” Moor The proposed scheme allowed that ish Architectural within an urban elementary and simple grid influence.

there were a heterogeneous set of volumetric shapes and decorative, which paradoxically produce a high degree of urban homogeneity. The Prado urban approach was welcomed by the leaders of Barranquilla with enthusiasm, and wile developing into a significant portion of the territory of the existing city, it was taken as a guide for intervention in the surrounding areas with equivalent urban structures. On the same methodology of previous planning, large withdrawals, public areas, residential services, air boxes, they proceed almost immediately to build neighborhoods of Bellavista, Las Delicias, Boston and Recreo. El Barrio El Prado in Barranquilla is considered Architectural Heritage because of the beautiful Republican mansions designed by the renowned American architect Karl C. Parrish. He designed a United States residential suburbs neighborhood-style with broad avenues, parks, gardens and large solars. As testament to the architectural and urban heritage of the city, the neighborhood of El Prado materializes the first successful attempts by the leaders of Barranquilla to join modernity and it provides a lesson in urbanism today, in the late twentieth century, that is needed more than ever. Seen in historical perspective, the result of the urban neighborhood of El Prado is perceived as a clear manifestation of modern spatiality and a pioneering experience in Colombia, by entering into a rational and anticipated format the spontaneous growth of settlements in Colombia. The modern urban approach dominated upon historicist components of the whole and for its contribution to urban development of cities in Colombia

11 linkage between the city and the rural economy of the region and the impact of the policies pursued by the central government.

Mansion in “El Prado” Moorish Architecture.

it was guaranteed as National Heritage by the National Monuments Council in 1995. The Planning Code of 1958 helped to shape that spatiality, scope and open city character of Barranquilla where modern architecture of the 50’s articulated and generated a spatial continuity in wich buildings created public spaces and urban gestures conditioned architecture. The Decline After this development boom, the city experienced a period of decline which was reflected in many ways. In the period between 1951 and 1964, when the number of inhabitants in the city nearly doubles, the deterioration of the traditional center and its surroundings accelerates as a result of the transformation of heavy trade zone and the proliferation of informal economic activities. In 1981, local authorities commands a study for urban renewal of the Center: Between 40th Street, the carrera 38 and the Rio Magdalena. It was included obviously the Palacio de la Aduana. Indeed, in 1942 and Buenaventura was already the main port of importation. The decline of Barranquilla as a first port caused a stagnation of industrial development and population growth slowed. The city moved to fourth place. But the decline of port monopoly was not the only reason for the loss of dynamism of the city. Meisel, cited above, studies two situations that contributed to the phenomenon: the type of

The basis of the agrarian economy of the Caribbean region was always livestock activity in the mid still using rudimentary techniques of production and generating few jobs for which rural areas provided a very limited market. Barranquilla developed as an industrial enclave in the region driven by booming exports and demand for its own population and neighboring cities such as Cartagena and Santa Marta, unlike what happened in Cali, Medellin and Bogota which link up strong agricultural relationships with their environment. Grown as a port and once lose its leading position in front of Buenaventura it could not rely on their regional markets to continue its expansion. On the other hand, the central government’s economic policies deepened the situation because they had a negative impact on cotton production, the agricultural product that absorbed the greatest amount of labor in the region and could have been the engine to expand the market. Although some mechanisms were established to promote their culture. To this was added the adverse factors of the central government of not having built in time the communication channels essential to get the product to the market. The 1950 and 1960 were of economic stagnation, population growth was lower than other cities - despite the arrival of numerous poor in other parts of the Coast who came in search of better opportunities - loss of force generating little industrial and formal employment, which led to an increase in the informal economy. As a result the city entered a period of impoverishment and saw the proliferation of slums in its surroundings. The Analysis of the situation seem to General view of show that these results can partly be attribut- St. Nicholas plaza in 2008.


In 1993 he was elevated to the category of Special, Industrial and Port District.

ed to the action of an emerging political class interests involved primarily with local ‘clientelistic’, not free of corruption, which did not have the clarity and skill to put policies and innovative solutions and that was overwhelmed by the acute crisis facing the city. This crisis was also reflected in the physical and spatial aspects of the city. As mentioned above, the socioeconomic conditions of the time favored the emergence of slums in the periphery, buildings of cultural and historical value were neglected, public space was quickly invaded by informal trade, creating one of the most chaotic urban centers in Latin America: dirty, dangerous and hardly passable. Some historic neighborhoods were populated by a growing population of migrants from other regions of the country, creating ghettos and generating a high degree of social, economic and cultural segregation.

The recovery Despite the regrettable state in which the city was, recovery starts in the last decade of last century in a different regional co communications ntext. The Magdalena River has lost importance over the roads and suffer government neglect. The Caribbean Coast enters the era of the leading mining and domestic exports to the product of the great coal fields of La Guajira and Cesar and ferro-nickel deposits in Cordoba. Cartagena achieved unprecedented recovery by the petrochemical industry and its derivatives, refining and exporting oil and tourism. Smaller cities grow and five port areas within the seven in the country, are consolidated in the reSt. Nicolas Church and plaza.. Historic gion because of the value of mining exports, center revitalized industrial and livestock: Guajira (Carbocol),

Muuseo del caribe. Architect Giancarlo Mazzanti.

Gulf of Morrosquillo, Santa Marta, Cartagena and finally Barranquilla which remains the main port of importation. Its linkage with the region is claimed by its largest population in the region which constitute the largest consumer of agricultural products and manufactured goods produced in their industries. Postmodernism (1970-1985) Period when the UPAC system resulted in the commercialization of architecture at the expense of spatial quality and aesthetics. The search for safer environments brought about the proliferation of housing developments and shopping centers closed. The Postmodern Movement appears briefly trying to enhance the historical styles bypassed by the modern movement. During this recovery period becomes important the architectural heritage and the protection of buildings and urban complexes such as the Historic Center. Among the most representative buildings of this period include the Executive Center I (known for his stylized form as “Miss Universe”), the building Sunflower, towers Popular banks in Bogota and Bancolombia, and the building Rodrigo Lara Bonilla .

Postgraduate building. Universidad del Norte.

13 city in the region. Its vocation as a commercial port is just consolidating. Last month the president of Colombia announced the neccesity of having a superport in Barrnanquilla looking forward to the entry into force, in january 2013, of the Commerce Free Treaty with the largest market in the world. With the lowest unemployement rate in the country, today, Barranquilla is an exemple in public administration in Latinamerica and the world. Its policies in terms of public health, education, and economic development have been published and commented everywhere.

Executive center I known as Miss Universe because of its stylized form.

Current Architecture Deserve attention some recent buildings such as the World Trade Center, as the Buenavista shopping centers and numerous apartment buildings north of the city. The return to styles such as neoclassical or neomediterrรกneo in buildings like the headquarters of Metrotel (neoclassical), the Carrefour shopping center Prado (neomediterrรกnea) and the office building Prado Office Center (neomediterrรกnea) responds to the recent interest in constructing buildings that harmonize in style with the traditional architecture of the neighborhood of El Prado, where they are located.

Its strategic position makes it attractive and effective as a logisitic multimodal platform. And as it was at the beggining, between indians, european and free african, Barranquilla will be the cross point of cultures, technologies, knowledges, people, goods and services with in the Americas and the rest of the world.

THE FUTURE Barranquilla is today the most important General view of Convention Center Puerta de Oro.



BELL LEMUS, Carlos, El Movimiento Moderno en Barranquilla: Muestra de Arquitectura 1946-1964. Bogotà 2005. Universidad Nacional de Colombia Sede Bogota. Pàg. 13-18 MEISEL ROCA, Adolfo. “Evolución de la Industria Manufacturera de Barranquilla 1953- 1988” . En: Historia de Barranquilla . Jorge Villalón, compilador. Barranquilla, 2000, Ediciones Uninorte. REICHEL DOLMATOFF, Gerardo. “Pasado arqueológico: legado y desafío”. En: FONDO FEN COLOMBIA. Caribe Colombia . OP Gráficas, Bogotá 1990. pp. 8-10. REICHEL DOLMATOFF, Gerardo. Colombia - Ancient People . Thames and Hudson , London , 1965. p. 44. SOLANO DE LAS AGUAS, Sergio Paolo. “Notas inéditas para : La Modernización de Barranquilla, 1905 – 1930” . En : Historia General de Barranquilla, Sucesos . ACADEMIA DE LA HISTORIA DE BARRANQUILLA. Barranquilla. Academia de la Historia de Barranquilla, 1997. SOURDIS, Adelaida. Cartagena de Indias durante la Primera República 1810 1815. Bogotá. 1988. Banco de la República.


Architectural History of Barranquilla

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