Architecture update: Letter from Colombia

Architecture update: Letter from Colombia

As a member of the CIVETS nations - a group of emerging economies singled out for stellar growth predictions in the coming decade - Colombia has put much of its violent and painful past behind it. A new and more confident country is shaping up for a brighter future, reflected in its increasingly ambitious architecture. With security concerns moving down the agenda, education has been allowed to take centre stage in a new urban discourse propelled by thought-provoking architects like Giancarlo Mazzanti, Daniel Bonilla and Felipe Uribe de Bedout. The country’s most compelling work is being commissioned by institutions at both ends of the learning curve, from exclusive universities going head-to-head to brighten up their campuses to schools in the poorest of neighbourhoods.

Freed from the overpowering influence of the great master, Rogelio Salmona - who died in 2007 - modern designs have moved away from the red brick and ochre cement used by him to shape the capital’s vernacular for over half a century. The city’s altogether more colourful contemporary palette may not be to everyone’s liking, but it strikes a chord with the upbeat vision of a country with a brilliant future ahead of it.

Filling the void left by Salmona has not been easy, however, and renowned international architects have been called on to contribute to the country’s impressive image makeover. Foster + Partners, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Steven Holl, Alonso Balaguer and Herreros Arquitectos have all been asked to play their part by drawing up a string of landmark buildings that will light up the city’s skyline in the next three years.


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