The 7th World Urban Forum (WUF7) held in Medellín during April 2014 was attended by a record 22,000 people. The city was selected as host since it successfully introduced and implemented an approach to reducing slum formation in the urban context by alleviating poverty, providing education and improving environmental sustainability.
The Integral Urban Project (IUP) in the north-eastern precinct of Comuna 13 illustrates the city’s exemplary broad scope and its strong contributions to the fulﬁllment of Medellín’s ambitious Millennium Development Goals. During WUF7 the site visits (Medellín Lab Tours) to Comuna 13, formerly described as the city’s most violent neighborhood, showed the efforts to increase social inclusion and the quality of life by creating public space and infrastructure in practice. The installation of public infrastructure including escalators enhances inclusion by giving residents a physical connection to the rest of the city.
Urban transformation builds progress towards sustainable development
At the closing event of WUF7, Mayor of Medellín Anibal Gaviria explained that “ten successive governments have been very supportive of the transformation of Medellín, and I urge other cities that want to achieve similar positive changes to come to us for advice,” he said.
Alluding to the successful intervention against gangs and drug cartels in the region, Governor of Antioquia Sergio Fajardo noted the significant challenges of addressing corruption which undermines and depletes the potential of urban communities. “Corruption is harder to fight than guerrillas,” he said, noting that through determination, the city and regional authorities have seen the image of Medellín and Colombia changed from that of destruction to transformation.
Project receives Green Prize in Urban Design
The Integral Urban Project (IUP) won the Veronica Rudge Green Prize in Urban Design in August 2013, together with Eduardo Souto de Moura’s Metro do Porto in Portugal. Established in 1986, the biennial Veronica Rudge Green Prize in Urban Design honors two projects that demonstrate the potential for the planning and execution of mobility infrastructure to transform a city and its region through carefully articulated design interventions.
When commenting on the significance of the two prize-winning projects, jury member Michael Sorkin stated: “If there are lessons to be drawn for urban design from Medellín and Porto, I think the broader lesson has to do with the disruption of the segregation of the disciplines in the design field. Historically we have understood that Landscape Architecture sits in one place, Architecture in another, and Urban Design and Planning [in another, with all three disciplines] in constant conflict about their territorial rights. One of the things that is revolutionary about the Medellín project is that distinguishing among the disciplines is no longer possible.”