UVA de La Imaginación is one of 20 obsolete water reservoirs turned into parks by Colectivo 720 in Medellín, Colombia. The goal is to create quality public amenities in low-income neighbourhoods grappling with crime.
The scheme takes inspiration from the site’s history, topography and structure of the existing tanks. It aims to encourage citizen interaction through planned, and sometimes spontaneous, recreational activities.
The design highlights the value of water as an essential resource of urban life and infrastructure. By adapting pre-existing elements such as water tanks, the implementation causes minimal environmental impact.
Opened in 2015, the pilot project became a model for a new policy of urban development.
The purpose was to promote culture and the dissemination of knowledge through the interaction of public and private actors in the community.
The site for UVA de La Imaginación included four tanks, two of which were already disused. The other two were still a part of the water supply system of the city.
Thus, a major challenge of the project was to open the site to the community without affecting operation. This was done through the reuse of infrastructure and inclusive design. Open, dynamic green spaces were introduced and a series of terraces were planned to accommodate the public program.
Trails around the repurposed tanks and across the site offer access to other parts of the city.
Since the project is meant to educate communities about responsible water consumption, it applies different approaches to limit water reliance. The program involves the use of water harvesting through simple treatment systems for gardening.
The construction uses locally available materials and resources, allowing for the upskilling of local knowledge bases and promoting community participation.
Alternative materials such as recycled concrete, old tires and concrete pipes have been used for the structure and public amenities.
The revitalisation of the urban infrastructure in Colombia aims to be an oasis for areas that lack public spaces. Activities such as workshops, educational programs and exhibitions inform and engage the locals and create a safe space for at-risk communities.
The project by Latin American practice Colectivo 720 won the gold category at the Holcim Global Awards in 2014-15.
Post sponsored by the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction
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