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Following is a link to a short article on Medellin ( thank you Renee 😉 )-simply to get your minds spinning a little…

http://www.utne.com/Politics/How-Architecture-Transformed-a-Violent-City-Medellin-6481.aspx

In addition, I am placing the link of a video that I took on the city’s metro. It is amazing how the video, which simply shows the view out of a metro-car window, clearly refelcts the the transitions and differences between the different Comunas ( or Sectors) and the city’s urban fabric.  The city’s metro system borders the River Medellin (which runs through the middle of the valley), paralleling the older railroad lines. The journey moves from North to  South.

In the North, we see a very dense urban fabric consisting of small houses- mostly made out of bricks and concrete-these are older informal settlements ( the more recent ones are further East and West, up in the the hills, and these are made with more precarious building material, such as scraps of wood, tin, plastic bags, etc). This is a very horizontal fabric (the tallest structures go up to 4 stories high).

As we move South, we pass by some of the public housing  (although most of the pubic housing, or “housing with a social interest” as it is called here in Colombia, are located further away from the city center, West of the city center- this area is called Aurora and Pajarito) , followed by the North Park, the Parque Explora and the Botanical Garden, which begin to announce our arrival to the city center.

The center is made up of high and medium size structures maintaining a high density with a much more vertical landscape. Notice that the informal settlements that once bordered the river, quickly get pushed out to the peripheries of the valley and up and in the mountain.

We finally approach the Southern Comunas (el Poblado) of the city consisting of high rises and a more spread out landscape… the structures in the mountain are no longer the small informal houses but tall slender ( sometimes too slender) residential buildings.

2 thoughts on “A quick note on Medellin

  1. adri, it is impressive the scale of intervention taking place from both an institutional and individaul (mayor) level. do these shifts seem to making a different in folks living in the most difficult conditions?….is the new design working for them?

    • Hi Luke,
      When I first see the contrast between these structures/projects and their surroundings (the materials, the scale, etc), in addition to the program, the accessibility and the cultural opportunities that they bring, I was in true awe (and quite optimistic) with the power of design. As I began to really listen to the local communities, and learned about the big socio-political problems and violence that are still taking place in these areas, I began ( I guess once again) to understand that the physical, most of the time, only covers the surface…
      Nevertheless, I do see that these projects and large investments from the part of the government in marginalized communities are huge detonators for other things to happen (public policy, etc) and I truly believe that they have empowered the communities and increased their hope and acceptance in the rest of the city. So, to make y response a little shorter- yes, I see a lot of change, but this change is temporary and if it is not accompanied by new employment, education, a sense of appropriation by the “locals”, etc. then the impact that was created will, in 3 to 4 years, be eclipsed.
      Thinking about this, I feel that these are elements that we can hint to and begin to incorporate into the architecture itself-commercial spaces, perhaps even more accommodations for computer and digital equipment (in the case of the library), nearby housing (because there is always some displacement and these people are almost never able to relocate in a close area- be it to the settlement or the city itself)… In any case, I am rambling so I will stop- I will try to explain myself a little more in the following posts when I describe some of the projects!

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