Bogota, Colombia Workshop: Formal and Informal, Public Space and Urban Equity

This workshop is an international collaboration between MIT School of Architecture + Planning and three universities in Bogotá, Colombia: the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Universidad de Los Andes and the Universidad de la Salle in order to envision, plan, and design prototypical criteria and design solutions as relevant proposals for decision makers, the community, institutions and other stakeholders around issues of the formal informal conflict in the area of the Parque Tercer Milenio in Bogotá, Colombia. This course is open to all SA + P students, with interest in the following areas: Planning, Design, Landscape and Architecture. This diversity would enrich the discussions and also the scope of the exercises.


Throughout Latin America, divisions and conflicts have led to the polarization and confrontation between informal settlers and formal residents. This divide, derived from socio-economic gaps and cultural values has led to confrontation among communities, resulting in high crime rates, political turmoil, economic stress as well as in the fragmentation and poor performance of the urban environments.  In the last years there have been successful initiatives that have reversed these trends. Most notably are the cases of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Bogotá and Medellín in Colombia. Compelling and innovative design and urban planning approaches in these cities have been successful in integrating with political will, social reform and the aspirations of the community for a more peaceful and productive society. Design has often been the driver of such change. The lesson here is that there can be a correlation between the quality of urban spaces and the decline of conflict and crime. These cases also show that the availability of quality public space provides for an urban arena with a high degree of social interaction. This workshop offers there the opportunity to re-conceptualize the role of public space (the public realm) as a means to integrate the informal and the formal components of these many times socially and spatially divided cities.

NOTE:  Class size is limited 10 students. Students will spend 9 days in Colombia (required) in January 2013 on an initial workshop exploring the area of the Tercer Milenio Park. Work will continue during the spring 2013 semester both in Bogota, Colombia and in Cambridge, MA.  Registration is through the Architecture Department.