Bogotá: Constructing the Commons in the Latin American Metropolis

We were, for the most part, foreigners in this city. Apart from one native Bogotano in our group, we were unfamiliar with Bogotá and its culture. That was one of the reasons the city had been picked for us by our tutors, for the graduation studio of Methods & Analysis of the TU Delft Department of Architecture. 

The focus of the chair is to investigate the existing architectural, social, political, cultural and economic structures around us, and the design processes that had created them. Particular emphasis is given to the under-studied places of the world, and working cross-culturally. Therefore, disarmed of the tools we would normally turn to, dealing with fresh faces and unfamiliar design cultures, we needed to build new tools and create new approaches. We arrived in the city with the intention of learning about it, and from it. We then developed our own architectural positions on how to face the challenges that face this fast-growing metropolis in the Andes mountains, and from this create informed urban and architectural propositions. 

Bogotá, like most Latin American capitals, has undergone exponential population growth throughout the 20th century, rising from 700,000 inhabitants in 1951, to more than 8 million today. This growth has been the result of simultaneous and interrelated processes of attraction to the city as a source of opportunity, prosperity and safety, and repulsion from unproductive and violent rural peripheries. Accommodating successive and continuous waves of rural immigration has, for decades, been a challenge for the city, both in political and spatial terms. Issues of identity are manifest in diverse communities and their particular spatial practices.