Transformative Urban Public Works Plan for Medellin, Colombia Wins 2009 Curry Stone Design Prize for Emerging Humanitarian Innovation

By Prne, Gaea News Network
Wednesday, September 23, 2009

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky -

- Medellin’s Former Urban Projects Director, Alejandro Echeverri, and Former Mayor, Sergio Fajardo, to Share US$100,000 Award

A bold and ambitious public works plan for the Colombian city of Medellin that helped revitalize its poorest neighborhoods and transform what was considered the deadliest city in the world into a vibrant, urban hub is the winner of the 2009 Curry Stone Design Prize.


Alejandro Echeverri, Medellin’s former director of urban projects, and Sergio Fajardo, the city’s former mayor, will share the US$100,000 award, announced today at the IdeaFestival in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Our most beautiful buildings,” Fajardo has said, “must be in our poorest areas.”

In a four-year period, Echeverri and Fajardo mobilized a team of renowned architects to design and build a series of visually striking libraries, schools, parks, and community centers in Medellin’s most impoverished slums. This unprecedented public works strategy has been credited for contributing to a reduction in crime and an enormous boost in tourism dollars. According to national statistics, the number of homicides dropped from a peak of 381 for every 100,000 inhabitants in 1991 to 29 in 2006.

“The transformation of Medellin is a testament to the power of design to galvanize change in people’s perceptions and in the very fiber of their lives,” said David Mohney, Prize Secretary.

Some projects have become landmarks of the city, including the Orquideorama, a 42,200-square-foot structure whose defining feature is a soaring, fractal-like canopy of wood-framed hexagons, and the Parque Biblioteca Espana, which resembles three massive, black boulders perched in the hilltops of a barrio once notorious for drug violence. A new elevated gondola tramway also connects Medellin’s poorest and most isolated neighborhoods to the rest of the city.

Each project was built in consultation with local neighborhood residents, and paired with sweeping social programs. “From the beginning, we involved the people in the activity of using public spaces to solve social problems and to change the lives of the community,” said Echeverri.

Finalists for the prize include Anna Heringer, designer of “handmade” buildings in rural Bangladesh, and Rob Hopkins, co-founder of the Transition Movement, a worldwide response to global warming and declining oil reserves.

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Hi-res photos available online at:

Source: Architecture for Humanity

Sarah Bacon, sbacon at , Hugh McMullen, hmcmullen at , +1-212-584-5000, both for Architecture for Humanity; Photo:


November 1, 2009: 9:19 am

I need some information about transformation of Medellin and it’s urban projects.

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