Event ID: 7272

Medellin Experimental Social Housing (MESH)

In 1991, Medellin was considered to be the most violent city in the world with almost 20 people being shot every day, and one of the five most corrupt cities of Colombia in the year 2003. Society was marked by violence and a strong sense of inequality.
The main problem in Medellin was drug trafficking. The drug cartels had the power in the irregular settlements of the city called “comunas”. The traffickers were turning into public figures such as Pablo Escobar, perhaps the best reference to an eccentric lifestyle of the time.
In the past years, Medellin has carried out social integration policies with the purpose of reducing violence and forming an inclusive city. During the past years large public infrastructure has been developed to connect the territory’s peripheral neighborhoods. The intervention with the most results has been the installation of public facilities and the improvement of the public space of the city. Nowadays Medellin is an important reference in architecture around the world, and is a perfect example of what is known as social urbanism.

The local government intends to handle the housing program in the near future. Every year the population of Medellin grows by about 30,000 due to a flow of people from the countryside and into the city. These people usually settle in self-built houses on the mountainside, expanding the city limits in an informal and uncontrolled manner.
Through the established program, we propose to regenerate the city through a new mix of building uses in the historic downtown area. Currently, the center of the city is mostly given tertiary use (office buildings and commerce). This project revolves around implementing new residential use by reformulating the adjacent public spaces in a way that includes housing.

In Medellin has mainly two areas. The most famous image of Medellin is the area on the mountainside. Extended surfaces covered with what is mostly informal construction with numerous watercourses separating the hillside. The communication among them is complicated.
The other area is the historic downtown sector which runs parallel to the river through the length of the valley. It is practically a flat zone, of more conventional urban planning with streets, plazas and avenues in a grid. This sector of the city is mainly occupied by tertiary use (public organizations, office buildings, commerce) generating movement during the day, but complete abandonment in the evening. This results in a dysfunctional sector of the city, which lacks the integration of housing programs. The chosen location for this project can be found in La Candelaria neighborhood at the center of Medellin, an area between Rio Medellin park and “parque Berrio”. The entire area is characterized by tertiary use and public equipment.

Medellin Experimental Social Housing will mainly accommodate a group of homes that take into account the current variety of people or families living in one place (single-parent families, classic families, students, people working from home, etc.). Aside from this, new housing will have to offer an important part of public space, viewing this as areas for relating to others and recreation.

– STUDENT: Any student CURRENTLY ENROLLED to an undergraduate/bachelor degree. Also all those students CURRENTLY ENROLLED to a postgraduate/master degree who didn’t receive their undergraduate/bachelor degree more than 3 years ago counting from the day the competition started.
– YOUNG ARCHITECT: Anyone who graduated less than 10 years ago counting from the date the competition started, regardless if they are currently enrolled to a master’s degree or not.

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On September 10th, 2014 the winners of the competiton will be announced.

Date & Time

March 24, 2014 - July 15, 2014
24.03.14-18.05.14: Special Registration 19.05.14-15.06.14: Early Registrarion 16.06.14-15.07.14: Regular Registrarion 31.07.14: Submission Deadline


(50€+ VAT)

Registration Deadline

July 15, 2014


Historic downtown area

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Gaston Saboulard

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