Medellin: Urban Porosity as Social Infrastructure: A Multidisciplinary Hub for Change

This course explores the space that the architect-urban designer has in the contemporary world, and his/her role as an agent of/for social transformation through design. Under the premise on which the value of architecture lies not only in itself but in what it produces, we are looking to extend our gaze beyond architecture so to be able to activate new forms of use.

We will learn to anticipate and pre-define actions and behaviors within the public realm through specific architecture, landscape, and urban design projects. We will approach design under the scope of understanding its capabilities and abilities beyond its matter or built condition; On how it creates “side effects” for well-being and new social dynamics build a third space in society where spatial negotiations for change can take place between policies and communities, allowing all actors to be active agents rather than passive viewers.

Our tool will be the public building, conceiving it as an opportunity for social inclusion that can help improve the quality of life and empower economic competitiveness in the urban sphere. We will design urban infrastructures capable to support multiple and dynamic social interactions.

Case of study:

Medellin, Colombia is a model of social transformation in which public architecture has played a major role. It has gone from being the world´s most dangerous city in the late \’80s, to a dynamic and innovative one. Even thought many areas were transformed, many strategic zones remained unaltered due to its long lasting socio-political conflict and its strong geographical isolation.

Those interventions were proved to be effective when political will and wise technical decisions were articulated with community groups through precise architecture and urban design projects.

Learning from this experience, the projects at the studio will engage and interweave seven public scopes and policies being developed by Medellin´s authorities:

Public systems for:

·Cultural mediation



·Public Health

·Economical development and production


·Legality and democracy

We will set in place suggestive and open designs that let users physically, socially and mentally recognize these seven public systems as new spaces, new typologies and witty social devices.

Irregular Schedule: Class will meet on the following dates: January 23, 24, 28, 30, either week of February 10 or 24, March 4, 6, 25, 27, April 10, 22, and 24. Giancarlo will also be available to meet with students by appointment on January 29, March 5, 7, 24, 26, and April 11, 21, 23, and 25. The studio trip is tentatively planned for the week of February 17.

Camilo Restrepo O. will be a teaching associate for this Course.