It is easy to find information about state-of-the-art architectural projects, new technologies and new materials in magazines, on the Internet or on TV. But it is a completely different field of architecture and its realization that I discovered here in Bogota thanks to the Professor Andres Sanchez Arias. I was intrigued and fascinated by his approach. In my opinion, it is rich in lessons whatever your working domain.
Several ongoing projects at the University Piloto
Ecological and sustainable solutions.
Mid-way between social sciences and architecture, the target is to learn the methods of construction of the slums’ inhabitants. Their methods are interesting because they are adapted to and in harmony with the geographical and cultural context. Moreover their practices incorporate many sustainable aspects. For example, they have traditional methods of construction; they use local materials and optimize space. The inhabitants of the slums build their own houses and their infrastructures according to their needs. Andres and a few other architects propose to take these practices into account to achieve durable solutions. For this “reverse architecture” project he travelled around the world in several slums to learn from local techniques. :
It respects the way of life of the slums and the inhabitants take part in the design process.
The favela of Cazuca
Andres guided me to the favela of Cazuca, the home of approximately 500,000 people. Here a completely new universe opened up to me. We met Miguel, the leader of the community project: projecto ESCAPE.
Young people are encouraged to develop their musical talents and they create groups of gospel, hip hop or rap. The community tries to offer other perspectives than drugs, poverty or violence.
Several construction projects aim to help the communities of the slums, for example a civic center made of bamboo. As many inhabitants of Cazuca come from the rural areas, they converted their practices to an urban context. Their knowledge and experience are particularly valuable for the development of urban agriculture, which is very fashionable at this time in our western societies. Somehow, here, we found precursors.
Andres participates in many socially very diverse projects that involve real challenges from an architectural point of view. If you would like to learn more about them or to participate as a volunteer, the Urbz network will provide you with a good starting point.