After forty years of social upheaval, Cali, Colombia is refocusing its attention on urban planning and revitalization. A steadily stabilizing economy has led to investment in the renewal of the public realm and transportation systems. Working to promote Cali's natural heritage, West 8 has teamed up with the Municipality of Cali to design the Rio Cali Park as part of an initiative called "A Dream to Cross a River." The project aims to integrate a safe, well-connected public space with a thriving urban center.
Rapid economic growth has spurred the need for a commerce hub, alongside the expansion of public space to accommodate Cali's citizens. Commissioned by a group of entrepreneurs, the Cali River Project asserts the value of a public arena within an urban context that can bring together diverse groups of people.
The project features a distinct prioritization of the pedestrian and cyclist over the automobile. Safe and aesthetically pleasing pedestrian and biking paths weave throughout the city to connect public transport terminals and integrate peaceful, natural landscapes within the rapidly expanding urban center. The rising sociopolitical stability allows for the reshaping of Cali's collective urban identity; a newly thriving street culture is developing as people's lives begin to reorient around the street and public realm.
West 8's design works to combat issues of deforestation, pollution, and safety by transforming "underutilized and overgrown urban green space into a rehabilitated ecological landscape and respected city destination." The focus on environmental issues responds to Cali's desires for major urban shifts after a long period of city-wide tumult. The first phase of the Cali River Linear Park is set to begin construction in January 2015 and will be inaugurated in September. Two traffic lanes, stretching from 15th to 25th street, will be replaced by meandering pedestrian and cyclist pathways along the Paseo del Rio. The Linear Park Bridge crosses over natural cascades expected to improve river ecology.
The second phase will commence in February 2015 and conclude in late November. This stage will include the Monument to Journalists, Paseo Bolivar, Jorge Isaacs Garden, and the lush landscapes and piano-bar cafe of the CAM Square.