Carlos Restrepo

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-2016




architecture, commerce, city, regularization, settlements




Cultural Resource Management and Policy Analysis | Other Architecture | Urban, Community and Regional Planning


Colombia has long been suffering a debilitating civil war. Lasting more than 51 years, this continuing conflict has brought suffering and hardship to millions of people. Indeed, countless civilians have been forcefully displaced from their rural homes into informal settlements on the outskirts of major cities. These densely populated, ad hoc constructions surround the cities as unstructured enclaves festering with crime and disease exacerbated by isolation and government indifference. The vast social, economic, and cultural divide between these settlements and the contiguous cities pose a major problem for contemporary Colombia that must be addressed. In spite of these conditions, the commercial sectors in these settlements are the most important places for sustaining the local economy and providing basic services to these communities. These areas are always characterized as being disorganized, dirty, and dense. This is not only a problem of urban space, but also poses a serious health and safety hazard to the people working and residing in these areas. New urban infrastructure and planning is desperately needed to provide the basic goods and services for the people of these communities.

This thesis contends that there is a clear divide between the city of Cali and the informal settlement of Comuna 20 due to lack of urban continuity and isolation of its commercial area. Through the theory of Jaime Lerner “Urban Acupuncture”, I desire to argue that the notion of restoring an unhealthy area with architecture will not only revitalize a specific place, but also the entire area that surrounds it. The healing and rehabilitation of a damaged urban site is possible through selective intervention on the commercial sector and public domain. This combination is essential, as commerce makes streets feel safer by keeping areas alive day and night, and public space draws people into the streets and creates meeting places. Lerner argues that “the more cities are understood to be the integration of functions — bringing together rich and poor, the elderly and the young — the more meeting places they will create and the livelier they will become.” This project will capitalize on the informal qualities of the area and transform them into a formal setting to provide Comuna 20 with identity and meaning. By leveraging on the potential and rough economic characteristics of the site, we can influence on the positive transformation of this area that will ultimately become a symbol of the progressive improvement of the people from Comuna 20.

I propose to design a new market, a public park and urban plazas at the entrance to the Comuna 20 settlement, and within its most concentrated commercial area. My design will draw upon the precepts of fresh, clean, and organized contemporary architecture to optimize a sense of space and well being for those who provide and purchase goods in the market. It will vest the neighborhood with a sense of pride, confidence, and stability. It will express the ethos of the community and will promote growth, prosperity, and ultimate integration with the city of Cali. As markets with small shops and stalls such as the ones in Comuna 20 can be found in ad hoc settlements throughout the world, I would hope that my proposal would find relevance and benefit beyond the confines of Cali.


local input

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