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354 DAYS IN COLOMBIA

2011-2012

2011-2012


Medellín’s Comuna 8, Barrio 13 de Noviembre, Altos de la Torre

[left] View of the City from Santo Domingo


Streets of Santo Domingo


Streets of Santo Domingo


[top] Public Space in Santo Domingo, [bottom] View from the interior of Biblioteca Espa単a


Shop outside Biblioteca Espa単a in Santo Domingo


Power in Territories: HYDROBORDERS Speculative Research Work in progress The South America Project (SAP) is a multi-disciplinar y and transcontinental applied research network that proactively endorses the role of design within South America’s rapidly transforming geographies in order to propose more comprehensive models of urbanisation for the continent. Hydroborders explores overlaps between nature, infrastructure and existing political borders in order to develop proposals for border stations, electricity supply lines and hydroelectric power plants. The project goes fur ther by speculating on the possibility to expand the scope of these investments and yield new cross-border urbanisms around ‘energy-cities.’

Team Luis Callejas Mason White Manon Mollard


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The HydroBorders project focuses on the borders of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil and Peru, which are defined by the 7000km long Andean mountains. The aim is to explore overlaps between nature, infrastructure and existing political borders in order to identify latent potentialities for productive collaboration between these conditions. The speculative proposals will be thought through at two different scales: the larger one of the Andes and the closer up one of the border crossings.

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Practical Action, Peru Micro-hydro electrifies remote Andean villages For centuries philosophers have tried to define happiness. Perhaps they should listen to a villager from the eastern slope of the Andes talking about the difference that micro-hydro electricity plants have made to life. “When we didn’t have electricity, ever ywhere was silent and monotonous. Then, when light came to our village, the children were able to do recreational activities. It changed our way of life. Now there’s much more happiness.” The plants were a response to the isolation of the villagers. 70% of them were without a connection to the electricity grid. Dir ty and inefficient kerosene and diesel lamps were the norm. People were leaving for the city. Yet the area is rich in rivers and streams which can be harnessed for hydro-electricity. Practical Action, an international NGO, designed turbines and used local manufacturers to build them, 57 in total by 2010 suppor ting over 30,000 people. Up-front costs were paid via grants and loans. The model of local involvement was pivotal. Local communities were involved at all stages, contributing labour and setting up management groups to arrange tariff costs and maintenance which is provided by local technicians. The benefits are economic and human. Businesses have sprung up while the quality of life has improved both in the home and in the community as regular electricity means better education and health care. The Peruvian government now has a ten-year plan to expand the project while the technology is being used in other par ts of Latin America. And when it comes to happiness, a new ice-cream factor y in Cochin is probably doing a ver y good job.. http://www.ashden.org/winners/practicalaction


BOLIVIA

PERU

MISICUNI ITIC

ECUADOR

CARPAPATA

TAQUESI

KANATA HYDROELECTRIC PLANT

OT

EL QUIMBO DAM LOCALIZACION GIGANTE CAPACIDAD 400 MV ALTURA 860 MSNM RIOS MAGDALENA, PAEZ SALVAJINA DAM LOCALIZACION BUENOS AIRES CAPACIDAD 270 MV ALTURA 1200 MSNM RIOS CAUCA REPRESA ALTO ANCHICAYA LOCALIZACION LA CASCADA CAPACIDAD 340 MV ALTURA 650 MSNM RIOS ANCHICAYA MIEL LOCALIZACION NORCASIA CAPACIDAD 396 MV ALTURA 700 MSNM RIOS GUARINO, LA IEL, MORO, LANSO LA ESMERALDA DAM LOCALIZACION SANTA MARIA CAPACIDAD 1000 MV ALTURA MSNM BATA, LENGUPA RIOS BETANIA LOCALIZACION ANORI

OCANA LOCALIZACION PAUTE CAPACIDAD 46 MV ALTURA MSNM RIOS PAUTE PAUTE MOLINO LOCALIZACION PAUTE CAPACIDAD 1100 MV ALTURA MSNM RIOS PAUTE PAUTE SOPLADORA LOCALIZACION AZUAY CAPACIDAD 487 MV ALTURA MSNM RIOS PAUTE TOACHI PILATON LOCALIZACION PAUTE CAPACIDAD 46 MV ALTURA MSNM RIOS PILATON

CARPAPATA LOCALIZACION TARMA CAPACIDAD 5.6 MV ALTURA 3050 MSNM RIOS HUASAHUASI INAMBARI LOCALIZACION TAYACAJA CAPACIDAD 2200 MV ALTURA 1800 MSNM RIOS INAMBARI RESTITUCION LOCALIZACION TAYACAJA CAPACIDAD 210 MV ALTURA 1800 MSNM RIOS MANTARO SANTIAGO ANTUNEZ DE MAYOLO LOCALIZACION TAYACAJA CAPACIDAD 1100 MV ALTURA 1800 MSNM RIOS MANTARO YUNCAN HYDROPOWER PROJECT LOCALIZACION PASCO REGION CAPACIDAD 133 MV ALTURA 2100 MSNM RIOS PAUCARTAMBO, HUACHON YAUPI POWER PLANT LOCALIZACION PASCO REGION CAPACIDAD 108 MV ALTURA 1900 MSNM RIOS PAUCARTAMBO CANON DEL PATO LOCALIZACION HUALLANCA CAPACIDAD 264 MV ALTURA 1800 MSNM RIOS RIO SANTA

KANATA HYDROELECTRIC PLANT LOCALIZACION COCHABAMBA CAPACIDAD 10 MV ALTURA 2700 MSNM RIOS TITIRI MISICUNI LOCALIZACION MISICUNI CAPACIDAD 80 MV ALTURA 2700 MSNM RIOS MISICUNI TAQUESI LOCALIZACION TAQUESI CAPACIDAD 38 MV ALTURA 3800 MSNM RIOS TAQUESI, KHOLANI

LAG

15.6 TWh 39%

COLOMBIA

CARPAPATA

TAQUESI

CANON DEL PATO

YAUPI POWER PLANT

CANON DEL PATO

YAUPI POWER PLANT

SANTIAGO ANTUNEZ DE MAYOLO SANTIAGO ANTUNEZ DE MAYOLO

RESTITUCION

INAMBARI

SANTIAGO ANTUNEZ DE MAYOLO SANTIAGO ANTUNEZ DE MAYOLO

RESTITUCION

INAMBARI

MISICUNI

KANATA HYDROELECTRIC PLANT

RIO

RIO

CH ITR

CER

A

EPA RIO R

PERU

EC

19. 75%

AC A

BOLIVIA

2.4 TWh 31%


RIO

NA S RIO CA QU ETA RIO ISA NA

VAU PES RIO GU AIN IA

COLOMBIA R U IO G AVIA

RIO

RE

VENEZUELA

CANON DE NECUIMA 10000 MV 910 MSNM CARONI, ORINOCO

AYO

LOCALIZACION CAPACIDAD ALTURA RIOS

UM

SIMON BOLIVAR - REPRESA DEL GURI

9.2 TWh 5% AZO PUT

JOSE ANTONIO PAEZ LOCALIZACION ALTAMIRA DE CACERES CAPACIDAD 410 MV ALTURA 1577 MSNM RIOS SANTO DOMINGO, EL ARACAY

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BARBOSA 306 MV 1300 MSNM RIO GRANDE

RIO PUN

LOCALIZACION CAPACIDAD ALTURA RIOS

AN IO S

LA TASAJERA

M IO A CU

SAN RAFAEL 201 MV 1300 MSNM GUATAPE, NARE

RIO

LAS PLAYAS LOCALIZACION CAPACIDAD ALTURA RIOS

CUADOR R O

MAMBITA 1213 MV 1949 GUAVIO

R AP IO N

LOCALIZACION CAPACIDAD ALTURA RIOS

RIO SAN

GUAVIO - ALBERTO LLERAS DAM

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NATIONAL PARK (BOGOTA) MV MSNM GUATIQUIA

IGR

CHINGAZA DAM LOCALIZACION CAPACIDAD ALTURA RIOS

T RIO

SAN CARLOS 1240 MV 695 MSNM MAGDALENA

A TAZ PAS

SAN PEDRO MV MSNM RIO GRANDE, RIO PORCE

FRONTINO 19.8 MV 1350 MSNM MURRI

LA HERRADURA LOCALIZACION CAPACIDAD ALTURA RIOS

O IAG

RIOGRANDE LOCALIZACION CAPACIDAD ALTURA RIOS SAN CARLOS LOCALIZACION CAPACIDAD ALTURA RIOS

FRONTINO 11.8 MV 1350 MSNM SUCIO, MURRI

LA VUELTA LOCALIZACION CAPACIDAD ALTURA RIOS

RIO

QUEBRADA SANTA ELENA 10 MV 2500 MSNM CAUCA

ANT NA IO S RO MO RIO

LOCALIZACION CAPACIDAD ALTURA RIOS

LOCALIZACION ANORI CAPACIDAD 540 MV ALTURA 1500 MSNM RIOS YAGUARA, MAGDALENA URAO LOCALIZACION MERIDA CAPACIDAD MV ALTURA 1640 MSNM RIOS PORCE LOCALIZACION ANORI CAPACIDAD 660 MV ALTURA 1500 MSNM PORCE RIOS PIEDRAS BLANCAS

RIO N

RAR AY

S RIO

RIO

R IC IO V HAD

IN OR

52.3 TWh 88%

VENEZUELA

93.6 TWh 72% A RIO

C AU

AR A

LAS PLAYAS

ARD RIO

REPRESA DEL GURI

OCANA

GUAVIO

URAO PORCE PIEDRAS BLANCAS LA VUELTA LA HERRADURA RIO GRANDE SAN CARLOS CHINGAZA DAM

MIEL BETANIA

REPRESA ALTO ANCHICAYA

SALVAJINA DAM

TOACHI PILATON

PAUTE SOPLADORA

PAUTE MOLINO

EL QUIMBO DAM

LA ESMERALDA DAM

LA TASAJERA

JOSE ANTONIO PAEZ

JUA

MIG UEL

MB TA ATU INA CAT RIO O

ZUL IA

ME TA

OC O

RIO OR INO CO


TACTICAL ARCHIPELAGOS Competition Finalist The international architectural competition Dnieper Pearls asked contestants to submit their conceptual proposals for the preser vation and sustainable development of eleven major islands in the city of Kiev, Ukraine. Tactical Archipelagos creates a series of operational clusters that can be inser ted onto the Kiev islands to preser ve their natural essence while providing outlets for experiences. New activities, new landscape references, preser vation of weak ecological areas, clean passive energy generation systems and, most impor tantly, citizens attracted to the river through new ways of par ticipation adn leisure. The newly created third zone for the city offers a unique oppor tunity to mix natural environment and urban life at the hear t of the capital.

Team Luis Callejas Manon Mollard Melissa Naranjo


The best way to establish a new relation with such long geography is through the creation of specialized action clusters that will allow the formation of a third zone, made out of the transference of water to the firm ground and vice-versa. The master plan is ar ticulated through small and tactical operations - clusters - that can be inser ted through time and at specific points. The deployment of these par ts is intended to recover forgotten and unfulfilled citizen’s desires such as taking a bath in the river, walking in the forest, enjoying clean water and directly experience Ukrainian rural nature in the hear t of Kiev.


Micro units as possibility for new potentials The micro units act as physical manifestations of the imaginative ways of relation and interaction between citizens and landscape. Floating infrastructure, mountain or garden barges, all act as agents of transformation. They trigger a new set of activities for the inhabitants as well as a new understanding of the river.


A new city centre around an island The East - West inter ventions aim to highlight the connection between the city and its botanical garden and offer an amphibious extension onto the Dnieper.


Itinerant inflatable art for energy production The buoy integrates a platform for fishermen and a circuit is traced out and open to the public. Ar tists are called to design the balloons.


CONstructions with techo Hands-on

Techo is a youth led non-profit organization present in Latin America and the Caribbean seeking to overcome pover ty through the joint work of families living in slums and volunteers. The organisation takes community development and strengthening as the transversal axis of its inter vention. The initial phase of the work consists of the diagnostic of the families most in need. In the second phase, the focus is placed on the construction of transitional housing, an urgent priority in most slums and a concrete response that establishes a link of trust between the volunteers and the community. The third phase is constant work in progress aiming to implement lasting and sustainable solutions for the community: basic ser vices and infrastructure, regularization of proper ty, skills training and micro-credit for the development of small businesses, etc.

Team Pedro Passerini Fer Guaya 54 volunteers


Above Medellín.comuna 8.barrio 13 de Noviembre.Altos de la Torre The school

Vision A Latin America without extreme pover ty. Young people committed to their countr y’s challenges. Families living in decent homes, having oppor tunities to improve their lifestyle.

Mission Improving the lifestyle of families living in extreme pover ty through the construction of “emergency” - temporar y housing and the development of social programs, having young volunteers work together with the local community.


Clara InĂŠs

13 de Noviembre is a thir ty year old illegal settlement on the eastern slopes of the city. Around 20.000 people now live there, most of them having escaped the violence of other towns of Antioquia. The neighbourhood works similarly to a small village, due both to its physical composition and social dynamics. The inhabitants have managed to get their own school and aqueduct. Incomes result of two main activities: street selling and construction.


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The foundations: 15 wooden poles

The floor : 3 wooden panels

The walls: 6 wooden panels, 1 door, 2 windows


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The roof: 12 beams

The roof: 6 sheets of corrugated zinc


She’s telling me this while we’re making lunch. She has a wooden spoon in her hands, she’s half looking at the red beans cooking in the big pot but her mind seems so far away, and ver y quickly tears start running down her face. It’s disarming. You can’t possibly say you understand, all you can tell her is that, hopefully, things will start getting better. And all you can do is admire her for standing here, not giving up, raising her children and looking after her family, fighting for things to actually get better.


Cooking breakfast: arepa with cheese and hot chocolate

A week later Clara InĂŠs and her family are all settled in


conciencia clinic Public Commission Work in progress The Conciencia clinic is situated in MedellĂ­n, Colombia. The project aims to establish a special relationship between the interior and the natural surroundings. Specific views of the landscapes are framed for the patients, in both the private rooms and the communal spaces. The project is developped for a construction in three distinct phases: the first includes one level of rooms and the main communal and medical facilities, such as cafeteria, resting room, emergencies, etc. The impor tant additions are a second level of rooms in the second phase and an academic wing including an auditorium in the third one.

Team Camilo Restrepo team Agenda


Clinic spreading itself over the land and offering framed views of the natural surroundings.


mcv house Residential Under construction The MCV House is situated on terrains 206 and 207 of La Síria in the countr yside near Venecia, Antioquia, Colombia. Conceived as a countr y house, the project aims to accomodate a family of four and guests in the main building. It also includes an adjacent wing of stables for eight horses and a smaller home for the permanent occupation of the housekeeper and his family. As it is located in an area of ‘warm climate,’ the house includes many spaces for outdoor living such as a large terrace, a swimming pool and an internal patio made of plants and water. Widely used in the project are micro perforated metallic panels inspired from traditional Antioquian patterns and aiming to allow natural ventilation between exterior and interior while block strong sunlight penetration.

Team Camilo Restrepo team Agenda


Location in the landscape


General plan


Perforated metal panels


Main entrance


Exploded view of house and stables


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oppta Competition Winning entr y The Obser vatorio Panamericano organized an international competition with sites across Latin America around the theme of emergency inter ventions. The contestants were asked to propose strategies to respond to natural and manmade disasters that occured in the last two years on the continent, from Mexico to Chile, and are still unresolved. The solutions should address the technical, territorial, infrastructural and/or architectural levels. The site chosen by the team is Petropolis, Brazil, where an informal settlement is located in an unstable natural context prone to landslides; both entities hence act as mutual threats for one another. The aim is to propose a consolidated habitat, made up of both natural and built environments.

Team Gonzalo Castro Jose Guerra del Moral Edgar Mazo Zapata Guillaume Avila de Suremain Juan Manuel Bernal David Cardona García Juan Esteban Giraldo

Sebastián Mejía Erica Martinez Manon Mollard Natasha Renha Sebastián Véllez Daniel Zuluaga


Due to the informal occupation of the territor y and the consequent degradation of the natural surroundings, the project aims to reestablish an equilibrium between natural environment and residential fabric while strenghtening the landscape identity of the site and providing the local community with a safe neighbourhood.


New residencial nuclei are created: the new units are above the existing one and they all share a communal garden in the centre.


airboles Urban Installations Work in progress The successful installation of the first Airbol on Plaza Mayor in MedellĂ­n, after first prize was awarded for the proposal in 2010, led to the commission of a fur ther four purifying devices to be installed in both MedellĂ­n and BogotĂĄ. These tree-like structures are placed in busy areas where contamination and pollution levels are high. While purifying the air around them, the installations also act as innovative ways of communication displaying educational messages centered around specific ecological themes: biodiversity, renewable waste, water scarcity and climate change. The Airbol aims to act as an open infrastructure raising awareness about the human impact on the planet as well as raise questions on a potential new relation between human beings and machines.

Team Camilo Restrepo team Agenda


Water tree


Sustainable energies tree


mineral garden Competition

The concrete company of ARGOS launched a private competition to design their new innovative centre, building that was to also accomodate scientific laboratories for the University of EAFIT and be situated at the hear t of the students’ campus in Medellín. The proposal was developed at various scales: that of the city with a cycle lane along the river, that of the campus with a new Junín on two levels, that of the building site with a slanted public space planted with trees, that of the façade with the material process of concrete made visible and that of the interior with a void cut diagonally across all floors.

Team Camilo Restrepo team Agenda


Strateg y for the Riverfront Connecting EAFIT to the rest of the city by cutting perforations through the campus to generate circulation, by creating a new cycle path around it and integrating the univeristy loop to other city loops.


Strateg y for the Public Space Creation of a green and walkable roof for JunĂ­n, adding a pasarela above ground to connect the innovation centre to the new building at the South of the campus, pushing the upcoming buildings parallel to the motorway to open up a larger exterior public area in the inside of the university.


Junín Section

Covered Junín


Strategy for the Site A slanted public space in front of the building to allow parking space undergroud and the planting of a ‘forest’ all around the building.


Strategy for the Facade Innovation can be described as the successful result to a process made visible for a responsible transformation of the surroundings. The strong presence of material on the facade is a way to make the processes visible, to tell a stor y that will encourage learning, that will develop a philosophy of learning by making, by seeing, by experimenting.


Opening up oppor tunities for wildlife, both fauna and flora, to inhabit the facade.


Rooftop for algae cultivation

Strategy for the Interior The interior space is ar ticulated around a void cut diagonnaly throughout the full volume. An exhibition space open to the public is on the ground floor and all academic facilities on the upper levels. On the exterior of the building, the stairs offer beautiful views across the city and river as well as providing a noise barrier.

Ground floor water mirror


Cross-section, West - East

Longitudinal section, South - Nor th


ruta e fair Temporary Event

Ruta E 2012, ‘We grow together by making business,â€? is a fair of entrepreneurship organized by the Mayor of MedellĂ­n and hosted by the MAMM, Museum of Modern Ar t of the city. The event aims to create an environment favourable to the development of future alliances and business strategies between par tners. Several considerations became impor tant when designing the modules: the event needs to be set up quickly, manufacturing costs need to be kept to a minimum, the materials chosen need to find a new use after the event is over and the same modules need to work for different types of business and hence adapt to display requirements such as hanging rails or connections for electronic devices.

Team Camilo Restrepo team Agenda


MAMM Interior


redefining public space in Medellin how architectural interventions trigger new ways of living AA Fourth Year History & Theory Studies The Histor y and Theor y Studies The Irrelevance of the North when seen from the South taught by Francisco Gonzålez de Canales in the AA Diploma School aims to challenge the Eurocentric approach to architecture. Is the modernity that know the only possible one? Is the model of social and economic development that is so prevalent today inelctuable for the advance of modern democratic societies? The historiography of modern architecture has constructed its own narrative around a fixed set of Western only references; however, marginalised figures of Latin American architecture prove how alternative notions of modernity have emerged throughout the twentieth centur y, independently from traditional Western models. Following my gap year spent in Colombia I decided to investigate how the city of Medellín developped its ver y own definition of public space and how architectural inter ventions triggered new ways of living for the community in Colombia’s second biggest city.

Essay submitted in December 2012 Awarded a High Pass


Only a few years ago Medellín, the second biggest city in Colombia, was still called the ‘city of death,’ famous for its violence and drug cartels. Although its severe problems seemed to have no solution at the time, Medellín successfully managed to reinvent itself to become the vibrant city it is today. Its radical transformation is based on a process commonly referred to as social urbanism, that is, the belief that architecture can be used as a tool for profound urban regeneration. This essay will look into the design and construction of specific projects of infrastructure as well as cultural and recreational spaces – the Metrocable, the Biblioteca España, the Botanical Garden and the Unidad Deportiva Antanacio Girardot – to understand why and how they have successfully acted as catalysts in the revitalisation of the urban setting. It will then zoom out to understand that these projects were made possible because of a strong collaboration between architects and politicians, who shared a common vision and desire to redefine the conventional idea of public space at the scale of the community and give rise to new ways of living. Finally, the essay will attempt to question the success of Medellín’s civic renewal in the long term by identifying potential issues in the adopted strategy, particularly the lack of attention given to the private dwelling.

The development of ten Parque Bibliotecas [Library-Parks], a unique typology of public space strategically injected in Medellín’s most neglected sections, is part of the agenda to fight violence with education. The first case to be looked at here is the Biblioteca España, considered as the icon of Medellín’s urban renewal, designed by Giancarlo Mazzanti and built in the neighbourhood of Santo Domingo Savio Comuna 1, in 2007. Situated on the Eastern hills of the city, Santo Domingo used to be one of the most dangerous areas and today, the three rock-like volumes of the library have changed the community’s view of their own neighbourhood as well as their relationship with the rest of Medellín.

Biblioteca España The library can be seen from almost any part of the Valle de Aburrá, creating a symbolic visual connection between the neighbourhood’s inhabitants, proud of their icon, and the rest of the city. Watching the humble houses that germinate on the slopes around the library’s black volumes, “one wonders about the real interaction between planned and unplanned, preconceived and spontaneous, stigma and conversion; whatever the answer to this is, it will be very possibly ascertained from this mediating Latin-American city.”1 The Biblioteca España, like the other Library-Parks, aims to give access to knowledge, culture and new media as well as to trigger encounters between people to favour


Cable-car network

Santo Domingo


development of the community’s identity. Some of the facilities included in the interior are a computer room, a day care centre an art gallery as well as an auditorium. As Cruz explains, Medellín’s library parks “opened the critique that our conception of public space is too abstract and neutral: the naïve idea that if we simply design a nice looking plaza we would magically assure socialisation”2 Instead, tactical programming was injected into the open spaces, hence defining levels of specificity: in Santo Domingo, social space was hybridized with knowledge thanks to the pedagogical support systems of the library. The connection between the hills of the Comuna 1 and the city centre started in 2004, when Medellín became the first city in the world to inaugurate a system of Metrocable [cable-car metro] to be used as public transport, bridging a height difference of almost 300 metres between the city centre, at 1470 m.a.s.l., and Santo Domingo Savio, at 1750 m.a.s.l..3 Not only did this allow the inhabitants to save a lot of time in their displacements but, as the new transport system is linked to the already existing metro downtown, it created a concrete connection between the lower and upper levels of the city: some go down to work, to shop; others go up to visit. The situation changed radically: the area used to be implicitly forbidden to visit and it became popular for locals and tourists alike. This clearly illustrates how the construction of infrastructure and public structures “help blur, through democratized spaces, the strict lines that traditionally have been drawn between the classes.”4 Moreover, as the cable car continues past Santo Domingo to reach the Parque Arví, the Metrocable is more than public transport for daily use; it is also a route to a green getaway, hence further encouraging the mixes and crossovers between different social groups within a specific area. The transport system arrives very close to the Biblioteca España, and new public spaces were created adjacent to the building, underneath the cable car route. The inhabitants of Santo Domingo took ownership of all these new spaces: both the educational rooms of the libraries to read, organise exhibitions and workshops, surf on the Internet, as well as the outdoors public spaces around, to be, meet, play and interact with one another. The conventional idea of public space was redefined at the scale of the community.

Interior

New public spaces Similar strategies were used for public spaces closer to the city centre, aiming this time to widen the targeted group of people it would appeal to, from the immediate neighbourhood to the whole of the city. The two examples chosen, the North of Medellín around the Botanical Garden and the Complejo Deportivo on the West side of the river, will be looked at in parallel as they share similar characteristics and were both successful in “opening up parts of the city that previously acted like private enclaves.”5

A main aspect of these projects is the powerful relationship the architecture establishes with the landscape: they carefully relate to their surroundings in terms of geography and climate. Medellín is often called ‘the city of eternal spring’, and the architects here decided to take advantage of the year-round pleasant climate to blur the boundaries between interior and exterior spaces. Although the competition briefs asked for buildings that would serve as boxes, “the architects delivered something more like foliage.”6 The Orquideorama of the Botanical Garden, designed by JPRCR and built in 2006, and the Complejo Deportivo, designed by Plan B in collaboration with Mazzanti, and built in 2009 both act as canopies rather than containers. Indeed, while maintaining their predetermined and fixed programmes and uses, they become more like shelters, letting urban life flow naturally beneath them. In their Complejo Acuático, built in 2010, Paisajes Emergentes almost treated the project as a “piece of land-art.”7 They took the decision to let circulation drive their design, and hid all the architectural structures below water level. Ramps, basements, courtyards and underground passageways are key elements of the project: they free the architecture from the ground and form a labyrinth-like space, leaving only the supports for spectators’ sitting to rise above. The visitors watching the activities in the pools are therefore positioned above, looking over an aquatic landscape rather than the more usual individual cube of water; the architects turned the simple plan to a multi-level experience of shifting perspectives.

Life under Coliseos

Life under Orquideorama


Complejo Acuático

Unidad Deportiva Antanacio Girardot: Coliseos Deportivos and Complejo Acuático

Wishes Park, Plantearium, House of Music, Botanical Gardens, Explora Park

Recreational & Cultural Nucleus from above

Lina Bo Bardi’s MASP

Parque Explora

In many ways, the design and construction of Medellín’s new urban spaces aim to redefine the inhabitants’ experience of the city. The three ‘buildings’ mentioned above are part of the nucleus of recreational and cultural interventions in the city – the other one being administrative and commercial, situated further South, around the Centro Administrativo de la Alpujarra.8 The first nucleus is also composed of the Parque de los Deseos [Wishes Park], the redesigned Planetarium, the House of Music, the adjacent renovated Botanical Gardens, Explora Park and the restored North Park, all completed between 2002 and 2008. The range of projects is quite diverse but, most amazingly, each space is used for a wide scope of different activities, both planned and spontaneous. Some of the official events include the display of different species of orchids, the national flower, during the flower festival – the Orquideorama’s initial primary function – the hosting of concerts, festivals, fairs, private banquet, conferences, interactive installations, movie projections, exhibitions, cultural manifestations, religious meetings, music rehearsals, political protests, capoeira, yoga and martial art classes, picnics, simple playing and gathering, and so on. These unplanned events relate back to the conversation about plurality and transculturation and can be associated with Lina Bo Bardi’s drawing of the MASP,9 São Paulo’s Art Museum, where the intention is made clear: it is about providing space rather than taking space. In between the street and the ‘inside’ of the projects, a new space is created, a third space, a transition between the surrounding urban fabric and the purpose of the project, hence justifying the architects’ desires to focus their proposals on the flow and circulation of people, designing shelters rather than closed containers. In fact, the architectural structures of these projects in Medellín seem to also be, more than anything, frames for human activities, where the inhabitation, rather than the object itself, is what matters. Geometrically speaking, the Orquideorama follows two patterns in the way it is arranged: the forest and its foliage as well as the hexagonal efficiency of a honeycomb. The sports complex, as another example, also follows a double pattern: in plan, horizontal surfaces turning into airborne lines, and in elevation, a mountainous profile directly reflecting the hills surrounding the valley Medellín sits in. These spatial organisations suggest the possibility to expand, to repeat themselves, or


Section of Complejo Acuรกtico

Diversity of activities in the Orquideorama and the Parque de los Deseos


Aerial view of Orquideorama

to diminish and be disassembled. “They are patterns that can be amplified and connected without losing their depth. These are pieces of architecture that maintain their form in suspension, anticipating new users and activities, and therefore extending their purpose – becoming increasingly vital and latent.”10 Thanks to its green spaces, cultural buildings and interactive museums, this area has become a clear people-attracting urban element, a permeable urban space that give the city back to who it belongs: its inhabitants. If the projects in Santo Domingo helped blur the strict line of social divide and favoured the crossings of different groups, the nucleus of cultural and recreational projects downtown gave the citizens real spaces to be in and share, no matter what social background they came from.

Aerial view of Coliseos

Section of Orquideorama

Sections of Coliseos Deportivos


These public spaces truly gave rise to new ways of living in Medellín. Indeed, due to the years of the violencia, the inhabitants had grown accustomed to life behind walls. “The role of strategic city planning and dynamic architecture in this dramatic change is undeniable. By simultaneously looking inward to the needs of the most destitute segments of the population, and outward toward a more globalized vision of design, Medellin is deep in the throes of reinventing itself. By creating spaces that speak to and for the city and its inhabitants, [they] invite people out from their cloistered or ghettoized lives to connect with the urban environment”11 This was therefore a radical change for the city, and it was proposed primarily by the local government, and supported by a group of forward-thinking architects. Sergio Fajardo, elected mayor of Medellín in 2003 and re-elected in 2005, “has been credited with assembling professionals and academics who, together, have defined the general basis for the transformation of not only this city but the entire region of the Aburrá valley.”12 The local professionals in the field of architecture came to establish a strong and lively collaboration with the determined politicians in power, a crucial alliance in the city’s recent, and rapid, transformation. Fajardo’s strategy was clear: he wanted to first reconfigure the socioeconomic relations in order to move Medellín “from fear to hope.”13 The materialized output, as explained above, is the implementation of new infrastructure and public spaces, however it is not the architecture as such that deeply mattered, but instead the fact that the discussion was moved “from the neutrality of public infrastructure to the specificity of urban rights:”14 enabling access and concrete civic rights to the entire population, when it didn’t have any previously, enabled the radical democratisation of space. Establishing new socioeconomic protocols therefore is the first step; the production of the new public domain is only the resulting output. Once this first translation is made, then, and only then, can the “meaningful architectural projects […] hopefully […] trigger other work, eventually resulting in a resuscitated urban social dynamic.”15

Mapping relations amongst last three generations of Colombian architects

Pablo Escobar


Bogotá’s Transmilenio

Medellín’s Comuna 13

Techo House

A convincing sign to show that Medellín’s profound process of change can be considered as successful is that it served as a “relevant model for other cities.”16 In fact, several cities in Latin America were facing similar problems and they actually learnt from each other’s solutions. For example, ex-Mayor Jamie Lerner first experimented with public transportation in Curitiba by eliminating cars from existing roads and setting up an uninterrupted flow of buses. These started operating on two different levels in order to further enhance accessibility and mobility. This initiative inspired Enrique Peñalosa to develop the Transmilenio, a rapid bus system connected to other modes of transport, establishing links between the centre and the periphery, between enclaves of wealth and sectors of informality.17 This more complex network of mobility in turn informed Sergio Fajardo to develop his unique typology of Parques Biblioteca, aiming to produce an urbanism of inclusion. Medellín itself then acted as an example for other cities, both in the country and in the rest of the continent. It for example inspired Caracas to adopt the cable-car for public transportation in 2010 and Rio to follow in 2011; furthermore, Lima commissioned two thematic parks from a development firm based in Medellín and Panamá is taking Medellín as its role model for the ‘Cultura Metro.’18 These are only a few examples that justify why ONU Habitat chose Medellín to host the upcoming World Urban Forum in 2014.

However, it is important to question a strategy that counts on the development of public spaces rather than private dwellings to give Medellín the civic renewal its inhabitants desperately needed. Although Perez and McGuirk argue that the real story of the Antioquian capital’s transformation started in the mid-90s, before Fajardo, with a civic movement that saw politicians, captains of industry and architects cooperating with a common goal, what it is important to remember is that it is a “social architecture, [one] made of people who understood […] they had to build a future for everyone”19 that truly is at the origin of the city’s urban renewal. The focus on public spaces is therefore a natural consequence of this goal, and by no means a refusal to deal with housing. Indeed, the pursuit of a civic culture and social justice in a society where they did not exist could only find a path if calling out for the community at large. Because the Paisas were accustomed to life behind walls, that is all they knew in fact, focusing the efforts on developing housing was only going to strengthen the notion of individualism, comfort them in thinking that the house is where they should be, and struggle to shift mentalities away from death and fear.

Nevertheless, the problem of the slums and the rapid spreading of illegal settlements on the hills is creating a lot of issues. In fact, recent statistics are rather alarming: 40% of the Paisa population cannot affort a formal dwelling.20 A non-governmental organisation called Techo [Roof] and present in most of Latin America, started to work in Medellín just over a year ago now. Their mission is to build emergency homes for the families most in need. They do not pretend to provide a lasting solution, and the prefabricated wooden cabin they offer are in fact meant to be temporary. Although the construction of the house is the first step, and surely the necessary first step considering that the organisation works with the poorest families of the city, Techo then works with the community on health programs, education, business and vocational training as well as microfinance projects for the families and the community at large. This desire to create a sense of community and belonging among the neighbourhoods is the long-term aim, therefore suggesting that if the construction of housing can be the first move when working within a particular social class, one which is so in need, at a scale smaller than that of the entire city, it is probably not the right strategy when attempting to reconnect the population with its own city. Now that the revival of the city and its inhabitation has been set on the right track, Medellín probably needs to shift its scale of action at some point in order to respond to what might soon become the most urgent priority - if it has not already.

It is undeniable that architecture did stimulate liveliness in Medellín; the local population re-appropriated its own urban settings, changed their relationship to and activities within it thanks to the materialisation of a new brand of progressive politics into an urbanism of inclusion. The Biblioteca España, “powerful symbol of a new cultural era,”21 gave the locals a sense of dignity back, the Met


rocable literally allowed people to move, and therefore mix, more easily. The new nucleus of cultural and recreational spaces dedicated to creativity and free, artistic and interactive learning transformed the abandoned Northern sector of the city into a neighbourhood which now acts as a “physical and social ‘gate’ to other barrios.”22 Medellín’s ‘social urbanism’ was successful because it regarded the citizen as a possibility for transformation. Indeed, beyond their functional use, the urban projects developed are sites for public meetings of the most diverse kinds, spaces where architecture is at the service of the person. Beyond the aesthetics of the objects, their focus is on the aesthetics of what they contain: the possibility for relational systems within the community. Now that the dynamics of the city are set, other issues should be addressed for Medellín’s urban renewal to be truly succesfful in the long-term. Indeed, one does get the feeling that there are only so many Library Parks and spaces of culture and recreation that can be created until the problem of housing becomes too big and too urgent of a priority. The built projects for the communities acted as detonators to stimulate liveliness and to give the population a sense of pride back even in the poorest areas of the city, but the illegal settlements are spreading incredibly rapidly on the slopes, on terrains more and more dangerous and prone to natural disasters. What if Mike Davis were right and the slums are just volcanoes waiting to erupt?23

“If the world is to contain a public space, it cannot be erected for one generation and planned for the living only, it must transcend the life-span of mortal form.” - Josep Lluís Sert

Footnotes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

22 23

Martignoni, Topos, 23 Cruz, Architectural Record Building for Social Change 112 Arquitectura Viva 62 Martignoni, Architectural Record, 37 Mesa, Domus, 56 Mesa, Domus, 56 Mesa, Domus, 63 Arquitectura Viva, 27 González de Canales Mesa, Domus, 63 Martignoni, Architectural Record, 37 Ibid Galiano, Arquitectura Viva, 3 Cruz, Architectural Record Building for Social Change 112 Martignoni, Architectural Record, 38 Martignoni, Architectural Record, 37 Cruz, Architectural Record Building for Social Change 111 Valencia Gil Pérez & McGuirk Rojas, Juan Fernando & Arias, Francisco Javier Martignoni, Architectural Record, 37 Martignoni, Topos, 22 Davis, 15


Bibliography Lectures González de Canales, Francisco. AA HTS Course Lecture, The Irrelevance of the North When Seen From The South, Plurality, 2012.11.23 Books Davis, Mike. Planet of Slums. Verso, London, 2006. Laboratorio Medellín. Catálogo De Diez Prácticas Vivas. Mesa Editores, Medellín, 2011. Medellín, Guía De La Transformación Ciudadana. 2004-2011. Mesa Editores, Medellín, 2011. Press Cruz, Teddy. Latin American Meander In Search Of A New Civic Imagination. Architectural Record Building For Social Change. Vol 200 #3 March 2012. P. 109-113 Martignoni, Jimena. Strategies for Medellín. Topos #64. Special Issue: Growing Cities. 2008. P. 18-23 Martignoni, Jimena. How Medellín Got Its Groove Back. Architectural Record vol 197 #3, March 2009. P. 37-38 Mesa, Miguel. In Medellín, Colombia, a group of architects with clear ideas draws up a manifesto to change the destiny of the city. Domus #937 June 2010. P. 50 – 63 Webb, Michael. Architectural Review. Special Issue: Recent Work in Colombia. Vol 229 #1368 Feb 2011. P. 32-81 Arquitectura Viva Special Issue Mosaico Colombia: De Bogotá a Medellín, Un País Que Renace. #138, 2011. p. 3-65 Internet Dennis, Anne. A Medellín, L’Urbanisme Social Contre La Criminalité. Slate, December 11th, 2011. [http://www.slate.fr/story/47003/urbanisme-criminalite-medellin] Kimmelman, Michael. A City Rises, Along With Its Hopes. The New York Times, May 18th 2012. [http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/20/arts/design/fighting-crime-with-architecture-in-medellin-colombia.html?] McGuirk, Justin. Colombia’s Architectural Tale Of Two Cities. The Guardian, April 11th 2012. [http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2012/apr/11/colombia-architecture-bogota-medellin] Valencia Gil, Juan Carlos. Medellín es modelo de desarollo urbano. El Colombiano, September 23rd 2012. [http://www.elcolombiano.com/BancoConocimiento/1/12_ ciudades_aprenden_de_desarrollo_en_medellin/12_ciudades_aprenden_de_desarrollo_en_medellin.asp] Rojas, Juan Fernando & Arias, Francisco Javier. No hay techo propio para tanta gente. El Colombiano, August 22nd 2012. [http://www.elcolombiano.com/BancoConocimiento/N/no_hay_techo_propio_para_ tanta_gente/no_hay_techo_propio_para_tanta_gente.asp]


Guatapé, Antioquia


Carnival of Barranquilla



354 days in Colombia