2015, was certainly a year to remember for Colectivo720. After winning the LafargeHolcim Awards Gold for Latin America in 2014, architects Mario Camargo and Luis Tombé, together with Juan Calle and Horacio Valencia of EPM Group, won the Global LafargeHolcim Award Gold the year after.
Their Articulated Site: Water reservoirs as public park project in Medellín, Colombia, opened in December 2015, centers on creating high quality public spaces inserted into low-income, dense neighborhoods at a reservoir where two giant water tanks have been replaced by new infrastructure. The architecture takes inspiration from the site’s history, surrounding topography, and structure of existing tanks and pools, resulting in an intervention with minimal environmental impact. A humble design but the ideas about the future of the city are ambitious and imbued with humanity.
L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui (‘A’A’) asked Mario Camargo, partner at Colectivo720, more about the project genesis and the impact of the LafargeHolcim Awards on his work as an architect.
‘A’A’: Could you describe the project you submitted to the LafargeHolcim Awards for Sustainable Construction that won the Global LafargeHolcim Awards Gold in 2015 as well as the Gold for Latin America in 2014? What is the current status of this project?
Mario Camargo: UVA La Imaginación is part of the program UVA (Unidades De Vida Articulada) promoted by the Municipality of Medellin (2012-15) and implemented by Grupo EPM (Empresas Publicas De Medellin). The project aims at developing sociocultural public interventions around and above the water reservoirs from the municipal aqueduct.
From a multidisciplinary vantage point, this project has become a reference for the promotion of education, culture, technology, and community participation. By rebuilding infrastructure and valuing existing landscape, it recomposes elements of memory, while creating new urban imaginaries. In an interaction between nature and the urban landscape, the park seeks to improve the quality of life in the city.
UVA La Imaginación was one of the first drinking water reservoirs of the city. It included four tanks, two of which were already disused. The other two are part of the water supply system of the city. In this way, one of the biggest challenges and the main strategy of the project were to open the site to the community without affecting the system operation, fulfilling its public, social and cultural vocation. This was achieved through the re-use of infrastructure and inclusive architecture: open, creative, dynamic, relaxing, playful and green spaces that the sector needs to raise the knowledge exchange and community interaction.
UVA has become a symbol of a new urban development policy, focused in recognition and enjoyment of the city through architecture and public space. Today, they have developed permanent actions on prevention, promotions of culture, education, research and knowledge diffusion, through interaction between EPM Foundation and the community. The current offer of public space is complemented by programs including:
‘A’A’: What was the impact of the LafargeHolcim Awards prizes on your professional activity as an architect?
Mario Camargo: The LafargeHolcim Awards is without a doubt the most important competition worldwide in terms of sustainability. The impact of this recognition goes beyond dissemination and visibility. For us, as Colectivo720, it is a commitment to think and build a city with quality, understanding the social, cultural and physical dynamics of each environment that we projected. Every day our professional activity is more committed to create more sustainable spaces and territories.
‘A’A’: What are you main current projects? Are you still in touch with the LafargeHolcim Foundation’s network and/or other Awards winners? If so; in what context?
Mario Camargo: Currently, our design studio is developing (design phase) three educational projects as part of District Schools program in the city of Bogota, and one institutional project, the new Cinemateca District of Bogota, currently under construction. Meanwhile, we are designing the lighting and landscape project of the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas in the city of Cartagena, a monument that was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 1984.
This last year, we have developed different projects of different scales and almost all of them through public architecture competitions. At the same time, the office received a series of recognitions: winner at the 25th Colombian Biennial of Architecture in the ephemeral spaces category with the project Colonia Infancia, winner at the 2nd Latin American Biennial of Architecture with the winning project of the LafargeHolcim Awards, UVA Orfelinato (the original name of UVA La Imaginación which was renamed by a community competition to celebrate the opening of the facility), in the institutional project category. We also won in the not built project category with the Civic Center of Medellin master plan.
This year Colectivo720 will represent Colombia at the Biennial of Latin American Architecture in Pamplona, Spain, in an open call that seeks to present the most recent and outstanding practices of young architects who works in the Latin American territory.
Another relevant aspect is that our office has been able to maintain ties with the LafargeHolcim Foundation. Last year, we supported promotion of the current cycle of Awards in El Salvador. In March, we will be in the cities of Cordoba and Buenos Aires (Argentina). In the same way, we have had other contacts to promote the winning project of the LafargeHolcim Awards in Colombia, and have received the friendliest treatment with each of LafargeHolcim’s representatives.See more
The Global LafargeHolcim Awards Gold winner, UVA de la Imaginación, was officially opened on December 29, with celebrations focussed on the local community of more than 26,000 people who are set to benefit from this inspiring project. The top prize winner from the Global LafargeHolcim Awards is not only a new icon of sustainable design and urban architecture, but will also lead a process of cultural transformation for the people of Villa Hermosa-Comuna 8 and Boston and Los Angeles-Comuna 10.
The master plan project named UVA de la Imaginación by the community was officially opened on December 29, 2015 with recreation and environmental care activities for children and adults during the day, followed by a family Christmas show in the late afternoon.
The project is enabled by enabled by Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) together with the city council. Juan Calle, General Manager of Grupo EPM explained that by opening the water storage precinct for public use, the project is able to integrate water infrastructure and community spaces to better serve the people.
In addition to providing 8,607 square meters of outstanding green areas, walking trails, lookout terraces, water gardens and open spaces that regenerate an area once off-limits to the community and solely dedicated to water storage, the site features 2,212 square meters of built space. The community benefits from an amphitheatre, computer rooms, public baths, waterplay mall, and four acoustically insulated classrooms for teaching music and performance rehearsals.
UVA de la Imaginación is one of 20 sites in the city-wide project under the management of EPM. La Esperanza and Los Sueños were delivered in 2014, followed by la Alegría, la Armonía, Nuevo Amanecer and la Imaginación in 2015.See more
The most significant international prize for sustainable design was presented to a team of young architects of Colectivo720 from Cali (Colombia) for an urban transformation project in Medellín. At the ceremony for the Global Holcim Award Gold 2015, Aníbal Gaviria (Mayor of Medellín), Alejandro Aravena (internationally renowned architect from Chile) and representatives of the competition sponsor LafargeHolcim, praised the winning project for its approach of turning a de-commissioned water reservoir into civic space – enhancing the quality of life of many inhabitants.Read more » más información (Spanish) »
The Global Holcim Awards Gold 2015 winning project is currently under construction in a hilltop neighborhood of Medellín. The urban remediation project is turning a de-commissioned water reservoir into civic space – enhancing the quality of life of many inhabitants.
The project forms part of a network of similar parks. Ten of the 14 sites will be completed by the end of 2015.
Medellín lies in a valley. Its water reservoirs are located atop the surrounding hills. This project shows how disused water tanks can be adapted to serve people in other ways.
The intervention that Colectivo720 proposed, and with which they won the city’s competition, is diverse and comprehensive. Previously inaccessible, the entire area, including the two disused tanks and the two new ones, will be fully open to the public as a park and venue for cultural events and sports activities – the uses are virtually unlimited. The site is uninterrupted and linked to the various surrounding neighborhoods.
Luis Tombé, one of the young architects behind the project explains: “For us it was clear from the beginning that we wanted to preserve the site’s positive qualities and create a multifunctional facility – using what already exists.”
The creation of public space through the project Articulated Site: Water reservoirs as public park is under way at UVA Orfelinato in Medellín. The project forms part of a network of parks, and ten of the 14 sites will have been completed and open to the public by the end of 2015.
Articulated Site centers on the creation of public space around and above a series of water reservoirs. One of the two decommissioned water tanks is being converted into an amphitheater that will be covered with a lightweight layer to protect visitors from sun and rain. The roof structure is supported by pillars that are anchored up to 10 meters into the ground. The project is a symbol of sustainable urban development, providing leisure and public realm through public space as well as laying a platform for culture, research and knowledge diffusion through the interaction of public and private actors with the community.See more
A project for a public park in Medellín, Colombia that creates urban spaces around a series of water tanks to form a “socio-technical” landscape of magnificent beauty won the gold prize. The design by Mario Camargo and Luis Tombé of Colectivo720 in Cali, together with Juan Calle and Horacio Valencia of EPM Group (Empresas Públicas de Medellín), all Colombia opens up hidden infrastructure within the city to create a civic space at the intersection of architecture, landscape, infrastructure, and urban design. The public space and pre-existing elements are transformed to create an outdoor auditorium and venues for a range of community activities that highlight the value of water as an important resource of urban life.
Head of the Global Holcim Awards jury 2015, Mohsen Mostafavi, commended the project for its focus on improving the quality of life in the city. “The jury applauds the careful integration of the ensemble into the physical and social fabric of Medellín – in a scheme that is a model for best practice that could be emulated by other cities in Latin America and around the globe”, he said.Read more » lesen Sie mehr (German) » pour en savoir plus (French) » más información (Spanish) »
Great care went into the further development of the project, with particular attention given to the elaboration of construction and landscape details that strengthen the overall objective of the proposal. A hidden infrastructure within the city is opened up, made public, and transformed into a civic space – one situated at the intersection of architecture, landscape, infrastructure and urban design. The jury applauds the careful integration of the ensemble into the physical and social fabric of Medellín, reading the scheme as a robust proposition that fulfils all criteria set forth by the Holcim Foundation.
The project foregrounds the value of water as an important resource of urban life, celebrating a piece of infrastructure as a civic work of collective pride and beauty – another step in the transformation of Medellín from a troubled city a decade ago into a city with a high quality of life, from a place of neglect to a place of hope. It is in this respect that the jury considers the scheme to offer a model of best practice, one to be emulated in other cities, whether in Latin America or around the globe.
As one of the three main Holcim Awards winners for Latin America in 2014, “Articulated Site” automatically qualified as a finalist in the Global Holcim Awards 2015. All 15 finalist project teams were asked to submit an updated and more comprehensive entry that was evaluated by a global jury in March 2015.
The results of the global phase of the 4th Holcim Awards competition were announced on April 20, 2015.
The winners of the global phase of the 4th International Holcim Awards competition will be revealed on April 20, 2015. The results will be announced via the Holcim Awards website www.holcimawards.org.
The USD 2 million Holcim Awards is the most significant international competition for sustainable design. The jury composed of renowned specialists from around the world and headed by Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University (USA) will evaluate 15 projects out of more than 6,000 submissions. The finalists are the winners of the Holcim Awards Gold, Silver, and Bronze Awards 2014 in each of the five competition regions of the world.
The finalist projects competing for one of the three Global Holcim Awards prizes are located in Austria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, France, Italy, Lebanon, Mexico, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, and the USA and were entered by authors from these countries as well as from Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain. They reflect a broad variety of the current interpretation of sustainable construction combined with architectural excellence and enhanced quality of life beyond technical intervention.
The submissions will be evaluated by the Global Holcim Awards 2015 jury including Marc Angélil, Senior Dean of Architecture and Urban Design at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich, Switzerland), Alejandro Aravena, Principal of Elemental (Chile), Maria Atkinson, Founding Director of the Australian Green Building Council (Australia), Meisa Batayneh Maani, Principal of maisam architects and engineers (Jordan), Yolanda Kakabadse, President of WWF International (Ecuador), Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University (USA), Matthias Schuler, Principal of Transsolar(Germany), and Rolf Soiron, Chairman of the Board of the Holcim Foundation (Switzerland).
The winners of the global prizes will share prize money of USD 350,000. Previous winners of the tri-annual Global Holcim Awards include Bureau EAST (Los Angeles, USA), Centola + Associati (Salerno, Italy), Coelacanth and Associates (Tokyo, Japan), Ingenhoven und Partner Architekten (Dusseldorf, Germany), Kéré Architecture (Berlin, Germany), L’OEUF (Montreal, Canada), Public Architecture (San Francisco, USA), Proyectos Arqui5 (Caracas, Venezuela), realities:united (Berlin, Germany), Tsinghua University (Beijing, China), and Urban-Think Tank (São Paulo, Brazil).
About the Holcim Foundation and Holcim
The Swiss-based Holcim Foundation promotes and illustrates the strength of diverse strategies of achieving greater sustainability of the built environment. As part of its approach, the Foundation publishes booklets on outstanding examples of applied sustainable construction. The initiatives of the Holcim Foundation include the USD 2 million Holcim Awards – the most significant international competition for sustainable design.
Since it was established in 2003, the Foundation has been supported by Holcim in more than 70 countries worldwide and is independent of commercial interests. Holcim is one of the world’s leading suppliers of cement and aggregates (crushed stone, gravel and sand) as well as further activities such as ready-mix concrete and asphalt, including services.See more
Mario Camargo from Colectivo720 in Colombia says his Holcim Awards Gold winning project builds a bridge between the needs of people and their city. “Articulated Site: Water reservoirs as public park” in Medellín, Colombia. The project is situated at the intersection of a range of disciplines pertaining to the definition of the built environment, ranging from landscape and urban design to architecture and infrastructure planning.
Aníbal Gaviria, Mayor of Medellín, together with Andreas Leu, Member of the Executive Committee of Holcim Ltd, Jaime Hill, CEO of Holcim Colombia, and Bruno Stagno, Head of the Awards jury from Costa Rica, presented the Holcim Awards Gold for Latin America to a project to be constructed in the host city. Architects Mario Camargo and Luis Tombé together with Juan Calle, Director of EPM, received the top prize for their landscape and urban design project for a public park in Medellín.
Aníbal Gaviria noted the opportunity for the architectural concept of the project to be multiplied across many public water storage sites in the city. Medellín was chosen as host city for the Holcim Awards ceremony in Latin America due to its commitment to sustainable infrastructure to meet community needs and ensure progress.
A landscape and urban design project for a public park in Medellín, Colombia, that merges social imperatives with technical requirements won the top prize. Architects Mario Camargo and Luis Tombé from Colectivo 720 in Colombia designed a park that encompasses landscape and urban design, as well as architecture and urban planning. The public space and pre-existing elements are transformed to create an outdoor auditorium and venues for a range of community activities.Read more » más información (Spanish) »
Exploring uncharted terrain, the project is situated at the intersection of a range of disciplines pertaining to the definition of the built environment, ranging from landscape and urban design to architecture and infrastructure planning. The jury values the important steps undertaken by the design team to explore the interrelationship of fields of expertise that are normally treated as isolated domains. The submitted design, in this sense, embraces – in a refined and poetic manner – the multiple criteria set forth by the Holcim Foundation’s “target issues”. Aesthetic, social, economic and environmental concerns are combined to form a sophisticated ensemble of public spaces, merging social imperatives with technical requirements to create a “socio-technical” landscape of magnificent beauty.
From a multidisciplinary vantage point, this project for a public park in Medellín, Colombia, centers on the creation of spaces around and above a series of water reservoirs. Tracing the site’s history, the architectural form takes its inspiration from the surrounding topography as well as from the structure of the existing tanks and pools, resulting in an intervention with minimal environmental impact.
Considering the infrastructural use of the site, special attention is given to water management, which utilizes recycling technologies that involve rainwater and grey water harvesting through simple systems for the irrigation of the park. In an interaction between nature and the urban landscape, the park seeks to improve the quality of life in the city.
Construction strategies: The construction technology was based on the use of available local materials and resources within a rationalized construction method, allowing active local knowledge with easy labor training programs, and promoting community participation in low-risk construction activities. The materials favor efficient use of resources, applying alternative building materials for the structure, public space and overall furniture – such as recycled concrete, old tires, concrete pipes and plastic.
Waste management: A waste control program was designed to facilitate and promote selective collection of glass, paper and cardboard to use in recycled arts and crafts projects, increasing environmental awareness within the community. Furthermore, green waste is managed by composting and manual processing.
Water management: The project is conceived from the perspective of rational use of water resources, applying different methods for low water use. This water management program utilizes recycling technologies that involve rainwater and grey water harvesting for gardening purposes through simple treatment systems.
Lighting and energy efficiency: Visual comfort conditions were designed using natural light and the efficient use of energy. Understanding the relationship of the eye to natural light is critical to the perception and production of environmental quality. The energy demand of the project will be reduced by the use of non-conventional energy with an economically viable proposal that produces real benefits. The use of photovoltaic panels, skylights and surfaces that reflect light decreases the operating cost of the building in the medium and long term.
Thermal comfort and energy efficiency: Thermal comfort involves temperature, relative humidity and several factors such as local climatic conditions, cultural clothing and individual activities. The bioclimatic design strategies intend to generate comfort zones within a range of 18 to 25°C with a relative humidity of 20 to 80%. The project was designed with permeable walls throughout the perimeter of the building that allow cross ventilation. The courtyards enable air exchange and the evacuation of hot air by convection. Finally, solar protection is provided by the green roof and eaves overhang, generating shadowed areas that improve indoor comfort conditions.Download project entry poster - English (PDF, 4.89 MB) »Descargar cartel de proyecto - Español (PDF, 4.89 MB) »See more
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