Prado and Jardín Botanico

Día 35 | 4 de octubre


In my final official day of exploring Medellín, I ended up where I began 32 days ago, the place I’ve frequented the most since being here in Medellín, Zona Norte. But before arriving at Jardín Botanico, I meandered through the barrio of Prado, just north of the city center.

For the most part I completely missed out  on most of the Prado’s noted landmarks called out in tourist maps, what I did gain was a better understanding of the neighborhood and why it’s identified in tourist guides as one to visit.

Throughout my trek I came across Parroquia al señor de las Misericordias (Church of the Merciful Lord), A church up on the hillside in Manrique, a gothic style church completed in the 1920’s.

Parroquia el Señor de las Misericordias

When I arrived I came upon a neighborhood bazaar sponsored by the church.

After partaking in the festivities, I made my way down the hillside towards Jardín Botanico. Before arriving I came across Cementario San Pedro, a cemetery of national historic importance, for the noteworthy figures buried on its premises, as well as for its funerary art designs.

After touring the cemetery, I ended the day in Jardín Botanico. One of the original pieces of public space in the city prior to the major investment in public works, Jardín Botanico has been revamped and totally renovated as part of the Zona Norte’s overall redevelopment, the park is a real treasure for the city. Throughout my weeks of being in Medellín, those days spent around the garden, I found it interesting how the people of Medellin used the Jardin Botanical as a leisure/picnic/family park. This in itself, the rapid change in consciousness, is still hard for me to come to terms with. Over the course of my 35 days, the idea that prior to all the recent changes, none of the leisure activities that occur in these spaces today weren’t able to happen in a city prior is unconscionable.

In talking with Marina Pérez de Arcos (a history and economic’s major from the University of York) a week earlier, after our combined Fajardo interview; I admitted that growing up in a country where for the most part, it’s a given right that you’d have public parks, libraries and cultural centers… I couldn’t imagine a life without them. For these things have mean so much in my own personal growth and development, I know that without them I wouldn’t be who I am or even where I am today. And from just knowing this simple fact, I know just how important these projects will be towards the development of the minds which will be Medellín’s future.

below, a few pictures from the day…


Campos de Paz and Biblioteca Pública Piloto

Día 34 | 3 de octubre



Today I ended my day in the barrio of Suramericana visiting one of the two original Pilot Public Libraries in the world sponsored by UNESCO. But before reaching the near west side barrio of Suramericana I checked out Felipe Uribe de Bedout’s, Templo de Cenizas y Crematorio (Temple of Ashes and Crematorium) at Campos de Paz.

Designed in 1998, the Crematorium follows the design style consistent of Uribe’s other project’s in the city. The only major difference is the heavy focus on crafting views of light, as light is a major component in funerary art design.

Sky lights

light shafts in the columbarium hall

I think it’s important to see the other side of religion based architecture, to view the parallels between the two and how in different ways they pull at one’s soul to invoke feelings of remembrance. In all, it helps complete a religious chronicle all geared towards the afterlife.

After my visit to Campos de Paz I hopped on the metro to travel crosstown to the barrio of Suramericana, home to Suramericana insurance corporation, a major insurance and investment company in Colombia. Of interest to me today was Biblioteca Publica Piloto, currently one of only two Pilot library’s started by UNESCO in the world. A Few years after it’s creation UNESCO chose the countries of Colombia (1952) and India (1951) to implement Pilot Library projects. Since it’s initiation Biblioteca Publica Piloto has served as an vital educational center in the Antioquian department, facilitating bookmobile service to outlying comunas as well as bringing the concept of the lending library to fruition in the region.

Before the establishment of Biblioteca Piloto, Paisa’s were highly literate, this all extends from Medellín being a center of importance during the modern art and literary movements in the beginning of the 1900’s. A period where great writers like Fernando González and poets like León de Geoff helped to spurred a literary movement in the region while also forwarding the transition from romanticism to modern literature around the world.

Biblioteca Pública Piloto

Main Reading Room

Of particular interest to me was how much of the stylistic embodiment of the UN was reflected in the building’s design. Being only the second United Nations built site I’ve ever visited, one could see parallels in design the arc throughout the Library. From the instinctive UN blue to the 1950’s international style, the building felt like a literal transference of UN headquarters in Manhattan.

Below, a few pictures from the day…

Colegio Héctor Abad Gómez

Día 33 | 2 de Octubre

Colegio Héctor Abad Gómez

This afternoon I ventured to the near-eastside barrio of  Las Palmas to visit Colegio Héctor Abad Gómez. The Colegio is one of the newest to be built in the city, being completed only 6 months prior in March. Along with the School came improvements to the surrounding neighborhood; circulation in and around the site, play courts, recreational amenities and roadway improvements that all work in tandem to revitalize this area of Las Palmas in the hopes that it will serve as the community’s gathering point. Prior to the opening of the Colegio, the residents who lived near the city center didn’t have a school option close by for their children. This much needed school also serves a dual function of serving as a community center.
What the Colegio lacks in size relative to other new Colegio’s is made up by its variability, being able to conduct numerous programs at different levels. The programmatic notion of leveling most likely infers to the area’s terrain which is sloping in nature; the barrio of Las Palmas rest the city’s eastern hillsides; The building does an amazing job responding to the terrain which meets the building at different levels in the front and back. The day that I visited, The city was sponsoring dental checkups and cleanings on the main floor while also sponsoring a late afternoon information session for the neighborhood residents were taking place on the 3rd floor. While on the main floor I interviewed Maria Consuelo Castalle who lives in the neighboring barrio of San Diego.

Over the course of our conversation Maria explained to me that the programs being offered by the city fill much needed gaps in health and human service for the area and it’s residents. Most who live here cannot afford to regularly see a doctor or dentist and so the programs being offered to the community have an immeasurable payback effect for the city (keeping citizens healthy so that they can be productive). While today residents waited to have their teeth cleaned they also had an opportunity to learn about the other programs being offered for free (computer classes, small business workshops, etc.) lending to the continued use of the building for the day and in the future.

below, a few pictures from the day…

viaje a la barrio de Santo Domingo Savio, 2

Día 32 | 1 de Octubre

Metrocable (linea K)

Biblioteca España

Today I returned to the barrio of Santo Domingo Savio to visit the new Colegio designed by Carlos Pardo (within Institución Educativa Antonio Derka). Since my first visit to the barrio I’ve come to understand that the Santo Domingo Savio barrio is the second most successfully revitalized area within the city while also being equally known to the outside world because of the picturesque setting of the matchless architecture of Biblioteca España. Since the creation of the Metrocable, línea K (2004), Biblioteca España (2007), footbridges traversing the divisive hillside streams (ongoing), and the new Colegio (2008), the citizens who live within Santo Domingo Savio and the neighboring barrios along the city’s eastern hillside comunas have enjoyed the fringe benefits that come along with these projects; tourist, both local and international.

Santo Domingo Savio revitalization
Within the Popular Comuna, the barrio of Santo Domingo Savio has been the best barrio to visit to really get a sense of the transformative changes that can happen to a community when numerous developments are stitched into the delicate urban fabric of a neighborhood to enrich the quality of life. Numerous businesses catering to the new flow of traffic into the neighborhood have sprung up leading way to the creation of  jobs (retail, food service, entertainment, recreation, etc.).

Santa Domingo

Shops along Carrera 28

The Colegio Campus: Institución Educativa Antonio Derka
The new colegio for high school students is one of three colegio’s that create an educational campus higher up the hillside in Santo Domingo de Savio. Like Colegio La Independencia, students attend classes in one of three daily shifts (morning, afternoon or evening).

Colegios Santa Domingo

Image courtesy of ObraNegra Arquitectos

Unique aspects of the new colegio is how it hugs the sloping terrain of the hillside while adding a flat plain of public space for the barrio. In doing this a plateau is created for the public to glimpse a panorama of the valley while also assuring a clear divide between the activities of the school and amenities for the public.

below, a few pictures from the day…

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