The 18.1 kilometer stretch of the Medellin River represents a fascinating agglomeration of communities, socioeconomic diversity, and zoning variation throughout. What remains constant is the river and the need to activate the river’s endless potential as a resource to the citizens, business community and burgeoning international tourist destination.
At the core of this design is the need to remove the barriers that keep the river isolated. The physical barriers include the train and roadway system, however, the more complicated barriers could be psychological as the river has had a negative connotation within the community for many decades. In recent years many positive strides have been taken to improve these negative impressions by improving the water quality and general clean up. Our design removes all the physical barriers and takes the added steps required in bringing people to the river, engaging with it, and ultimately turning it into a positive and proud attribute for all Paisas.
Breaking down the psychological barriers begins with getting people accustomed to experiencing water once again. There are plenty of case studies of how this has been accomplished in various parts of the world. In Copenhagen, Denmark pubic swimming pools have been inserted inside previously contaminated river areas to create the sense of engaging with water once again. Throughout the 18.1 kilometers we have distributed several public swimming pools immediately adjacent to the Medellin River or in some cases we have also “inserted” a public swimming pool within the river itself. These public swimming pools will contain fresh water and will be chemically treated as you would with any public swimming pool. The idea is to slowly re-engage the public with the notion of entering the water once again. Over time, as the Medellin River is returned to it’s natural clean water state, the swimming pools can be converted into utilizing the river water as well.
Upon establishing the water as a positive place of gathering, we need to also suggest programmatic elements that are complimentary with water adjacency and further allow the river to be fully activated by people. We have created a master plan of programmatic vision suggesting those programmatic spaces that are best served for each respective Tramo. We have closely investigated the existing zoning around the tramos bordering the river to serve as inspiration for these programmatic elements. The following is a section by section explanation of these programmatic spaces.