Once known as the most dangerous city in the world, this January Medellín in Colombia was named the number one travel destination on the rise in South America. From a world full of darkness and crime, the city has stepped into the light – thanks to its own society, which remembered its values at the darkest moment.
The fourth part of the Medellín series by Alejandro Restrepo-Montoya is about Medellín’s interest of the consideration of its tutelary hills, the integral social and physical intervention in its centre and the alternatives for the generation of new conditions of sustainable mobility.
The present and future Medellín
This present and future Medellín is the result of what we have built and will be the consequence of our actions as a community. Dreams and permanent work allow us to continue building the history of a city that, from its deepest illusions, has approached the community, has improved its living conditions and through education, culture, urban space and social cohesion has established a path to the future. In the city of today we continue to consider that any model of development must consider the processes of growth, the natural conditions, the characteristics of our topography and the dreams of society. It is necessary to continue with the creation of public space in the settlements where our communities live, to plan the redensification of the centre of the city, to propose housing plans that accompany urban development and to create new public space along the axis of the Medellín River, in the tutelary hills, in the centre of the city and in our neighbourhoods.
New urban processes
An urban development project on the banks of the Medellín River has begun to generate public space with high environmental quality that integrate the eastern and western banks of the city. In different neighbourhoods located on the outskirts, the public space that surrounds the water tanks that have supplied the city for years has been returned to the community. Today, these elements are surrounded by open space and have generated new possibilities for the development of the public space around the water supply facilities.
The current political administration, led by Mayor Federico Gutiérrez Zuluaga, has proposed the development of new, environmentally friendly public spaces, new sustainable mobility programmes, the integral intervention of the centre of Medellín, urban and environmental intervention in its tutelary hills and has defined conditions for the creation of collective spaces that allow us to continue integrating the community into urban processes.
In accord with nature
In these urban conditions, continuing with the dynamics of intervention in the peripheral territories and accompanying urban development simultaneously around the sustainable redensification of its centre has all been proposed. Increasing environmental quality in all the urban spaces has been suggested, as has the establishment of principles of ecological connectivity by linking the brooks and considering an increase in vegetation as an urban structure. The city today is oriented to the consideration of its tutelary hills as permanent flora-and-fauna repositories, to the integral social and physical intervention in its centre, to continue the natural approach along the edges of the river and the consolidation of alternatives for the generation of new conditions of sustainable mobility. A plan to articulate the natural components of the city through an urban ecological network defines the El Volador, Nutibara and La Asomadera hills as natural spaces from which the environmental condition of the city can be reclassified. The plan also proposes the creation of urban spaces through environmental corridors that establish natural connectivity between different parts of the city.
The ecological and spatial integration of the city centre with its surroundings has been proposed through the development of 30 urban corridors with characteristics and conditions of environmental improvement, where more than 15,000 trees and other plants will be added. An intervention project in 40 parts in the centre of Medellín links them with the urban space through environmental paths that place a priority on pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles. These spaces, recognised as neighbourhood centres that attract families and visitors, where some of the most representative institutions of the city have been at home for years, are part of an ecological network that is linked to the hills, to the urban structure, to the patrimony and to natural components. In the perimeters of each park and square, the patrimony determines aspects and conditions necessary for the rehabilitation of these spaces. Therefore, urban intervention according to the regulations established by the corresponding dependencies must be driven, promoted and assisted by an Urban and Environmental Plan. This should allow for improvement of the use of public space through the development of new projects that maintain and stimulate the presence and growth of the institutions that have historically occupied these sectors of the city.