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Transforming Medellín: architecture and urban design as agents of social change

Abstract

This article examines the transformative impact of Sergio Fajardo’s mayoral administration (2003–2007) in Medellín, Colombia, focusing on architecture and urban design projects that have promoted equity. Central to this urban renaissance was the Proyecto Urbano Integral (PUI) Nororiental, which revitalized informal settlements in the city’s northeastern zone. The initiative leveraged financing from Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM), a city-owned utility company, ensuring sustainable investment in public works without reliance on international loans. This financial model enabled the redistribution of funds to Medellín’s poorest neighborhoods, fostering transparency and combating corruption. Key to this urban strategy was the involvement of the Empresa de Desarrollo Urbano (EDU) which implemented the PUI with an intersectional planning approach combining public transit, education, culture, recreation, health, and safety initiatives. The PUI emphasized community participation through “Imaginary Workshops” promoting ownership and engagement among residents. The PUI Nororiental, enhanced by the Metrocable transit system and associated public spaces, has successfully integrated isolated neighborhoods while reducing violence and fostering social cohesion. Despite critiques of high costs, this article argues that quality public spaces and civic buildings promote community pride and destigmatization. Medellín’s “social urbanism” serves as a model for addressing inequity in Latin America and the broader Global South, demonstrating how architecture and urban design can drive social change.

Keyword : Latin America, informal settlements, urban design, architecture, equity

How to Cite
Meninato, P., & Marinic, G. (2024). Transforming Medellín: architecture and urban design as agents of social change. Journal of Architecture and Urbanism, 48(1), 83–90. https://doi.org/10.3846/jau.2024.17793
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Jul 8, 2024
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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