Cities are for People: Turning Underused Spaces into Public Places

Metrocable, architect Urban-Think Tank. Image © Omar Uran

It begins with a fundamental premise: Buildings occupy only a fraction of land in cities. Just as important as physical structures, are the public spaces in between.

In many cities these spaces have long been disregarded. Today, however, we are witnessing bold experimentation and innovation coming forth from cities across the globe: cities re-using and re-imagining previously underused spaces in order to uplift communities and transform lives.

RV House / Alejandro Restrepo Montoya + Camilo Andrés Mejía Bravo + Andrés Felipe Mesa Trujillo

Courtesy of Alejandro Restrepo Montoya

Architects: Alejandro Restrepo Montoya, Camilo Andrés Mejía Bravo,
Location: Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Design Team: Álvaro Mauricio López Gómez, Juan Camilo Garcés Cuesta
Area: 415.0 sqm
Year: 2010
Photographs: Courtesy of Alejandro Restrepo Montoya, Sergio Gómez

UB House / Alejandro Restrepo Montoya + Camilo Andrés Mejía Bravo + Andrés Felipe Mesa Trujillo

Courtesy of

Architects: Alejandro Restrepo Montoya, Camilo Andrés Mejía Bravo,
Location: Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Design Team: Álvaro Mauricio López Gómez, Juan Camilo Garcés Cuesta
Area: 465.0 sqm
Year: 2009
Photographs: Courtesy of Alejandro Restrepo Montoya

Winners Announced for 2013 Veronica Rudge Green Prize in Urban Design

Northeastern Urban Integration Project in Medellín, Colombia, Courtesy of Harvard GSD

The Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) has announced the 11th award winners: Eduardo Souto de Moura’s Metro do Porto in Porto, , and the Northeastern Urban Integration Project in Medellín, Colombia.

When commenting on the significance of the two prize-winning projects, jury member Micahel Sorkin stated: “If there are lessons to be drawn for urban design from Medellín and Porto, I think the broader lesson has to do with the disruption of the segregation of the disciplines in the design field. Historically we have understood that Landscape Architecture sits in one place, Architecture in another, and Urban Design and Planning [in another, with all three disciplines] in constant conflict about their territorial rights. One of the things that is revolutionary about the Medellín project is that distinguishing among the disciplines is no longer possible.”

More about the prize-winning projects, courtesy of the GSD:

OMA Selected to Masterplan New Civic Center in Colombia

Aerial ©

OMA (NY), along with local collaborators Gomez + , has been selected to masterplan the Bogotá Centro Administrativo Nacional (CAN) in Colombia, a mixed-use civic center roughly the size of Washington DC’s National Mall. Located at the midpoint of Calle 26 Avenue, the city’s main axis that has symbolically charted its growth from the historic downtown to the airport and the international gateway of Colombia, CAN will serve as a new city center and government headquarters with additional programs of residential, educational, retail and cultural developments.

Shohei Shigematsu, director-in-charge of OMA New York, commented, “Our proposal enables CAN to be a lively node, providing a continuous public domain that curves through the site to connect the park, the university and Calle 26. With a single gesture, the arc achieves a clear urban identity while accommodating programmatic diversity.”

Urban Current[s] Competition Entry / L+CC + Taller 301 + openfabric

Courtesy of + Taller 301 + openfabric

A conceptual framework for the development of the city of , the Urban Current[s] competition proposal by L+CC (Land+Civilization Compositions), Taller 301, and openfabric considers it important to think of the river territory beyond a simple design of public space. Instead, this is seen as the opportunity to re-structure and establish a framework for the future development of Medellín. Their approach creates new principles for the development of the city by using all available resources (natural, social, economic, political, and cultural) to link the city with its history, its ecology, and the movement of people in the territory. More images and architects’ description after the break.

Bicentenario School / Campuzano Arquitectos

Courtesy of

Architects: Campuzano Arquitectos
Location: Tolima,
Team: Gabriel Campuzano Otero, Carlos Campuzano Otero, Carlos Campuzano Castelló
Area: 6,000 sqm
Year: 2012
Photographs: Courtesy of Campuzano Arquitectos

Las Palmas House / Carlos Molina

© Carlos Tobon

Location: Medellín,
Photographs: Carlos Tobon

Cafe del Bosque / Castro Arquitectos

© Ana Velez

Location: Medellín,
Built Area: 1,034.69 sqm
Area: 2,116.61 sqm
Photographs: Ana Velez, Lorenzo Castro

Los Nogales School / Daniel Bonilla Arquitectos

© Rodrigo Dávila

Architect Office: Daniel Bonilla Arquitectos
Location: , Colombia
Design Team: Daniel Bonilla, Andrés Gutiérrez, Adriana Hernández, David Kita, Rodrigo Montoya, Juliana Lozano, Mauricio Patiño, Cristian Echeverría
Area: 1576.0 sqm
Year: 2009
Photography: Rodrigo Dávila, Sergio Gómez

Between Yards / XXeStudio

© Alberto Moreno

Location: Villa del Rosario, Norte de Santander, Colombia
Architect In Charge: Balmor
Design Team: Rafael Suarez, Lina Quintero
Structure: HMS Constructores
Area: 412 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Alberto Moreno, Fabián Mena, Pedro Ballesteros

Educational Institute La Samaria / Campuzano Arquitectos

Courtesy of Campuzano Arquitectos

Architects: Campuzano Arquitectos
Location: , Risaralda,
Design Team: Gabriel Campuzano Otero, Carlos Campuzano Otero, Carlos Campuzano Castello
Collaborators: Juliana Zuluaga, Julio Angulo, Oscar Ruiz, Diana Galvis, Alejandro Rodriguez
Strucutral Design: Devaldenebro Ingenieros
Consultant In Sustainability: Jorge Ramirez
Year: 2012
Photographs: Courtesy of Campuzano Arquitectos

AR House / Campuzano Architects

© Gabriel & Carlos Campuzano

Architects: - Gabriel Campuzano Otero, Carlos Campuzano Otero
Location: , Colombia
Area: 600 sqm
Year: 2012
Photographs: Gabriel & Carlos Campuzano

House 60 / De La Carrera – Cavanzo Arquitectura

© Luis Alberto Mariño

Architects: Fernando de La Carrera + Alejandro Cavanzo
Location: , Cundinamarca,
Collaborators: Estefany Vasquez, Mauricio Berrío
Project Area: 437 sqm
Project Year: 2012
Photographs: Luis Alberto Mariño, Juan Sebastián Rocha

Flor del Campo Educational Center / Giancarlo Mazzanti + Felipe Mesa

© Cristobal Palma

Architects: Giancarlo Mazzanti + Felipe Mesa
Location: , Antioquia, Colombia
Collaborators: Rocío Lamprea, Jairo Ovalle, María Alejandra Pérez, Fredy Pantoja, Andrés Sarmiento, Juliana Angarita, Marcela de la Hoz
Promotor: Ministerio de Educación y FONADE
Contractor: Consorcio Barrancabermeja
Client: Secretaria de Educación del Distrito de Cartagena de Indias DT y C
Area: 6,168 sqm
Year: 2010
Photographs: Cristobal Palma

Fernando Botero Park Library / G Ateliers Architecture

© Orlando Garcia

Architects: G Ateliers Architecture
Location: San Cristóbal, Medellín, Antioquia,
Design Principal: Orlando Garcia
Project Team: Adriana Salazar
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: Orlando Garcia

BD Bacatá: The World’s First Crowdfunded Skyscraper

Kickstarter, a site based on the seductive idea of “crowdfunding” – in which consumers collectively invest in a product in order for it to become reality – has taken on a life of its own. From straightforward consumer products (like a cool watch) to creative projects (Roman Mars’ radio show) and even to large-scale Urbanism projects (including an entire riverwater pool), Kickstarter has evolved to finance ever more complex, ambitious, and risky endeavors.

But are there limits? Can you harness the purchasing power of the public to “crowdfund” anything? To, say, design/build a city?

Well, if Colombia’s BD Bacatá building, the first ever crowdfunded skyscraper, is anything to go by – the answer would seem to be yes.

More images of the first ever crowdfunded skyscraper, BD Bacatá, after the break…

‘Carabineros’ Fort / EDU Medellín

Courtesy of

Architects: EDU Medellín
Location: Medellín,
Design Team: Juan MejiaGustavo Adolfo Restrepo, John Octavio Ortiz, Alejandra Gomez, Maria Elena Arango, Adolfo Emilio Arboleda, Julian Yepes, Isabel Mejia, Alba Milena Garcia, Diego Alberto Serna, Victor Hugo Garcia, Jerónimo Franco, Jose Puentes, Andres Montoya, Gustavo Ramirez
Project Year: 2011
Photographs: Courtesy of EDU Medellín