Many of your projects are buildings for education, from Parque Biblioteca España in Medellìn to El Porvenir School in Bogotà or El Flor del Campo in Cartagena, from Timayui School in Santa Marta to the recent Pies Descalzos, also in Cartagena. What does working on projects of this kind mean to you, and what are the principles on which your projects are based?
It must be stressed that the educational potential of a city goes hand in hand with its population’s capacity for exercising agency. The progressive democratization of information by new media encourages the populace to demand greater inclusion in planning and decision-making on public issues, and in the design and creation of policies for the sustainability of cities.
In this context, the concept of learning in the city is a civic and educational ideal that underlines the urgency of transforming public space and social institutions.
Education in the city is the space for interaction among citizens. It is a place open to the community where fundamental concepts for learning are materialized: commitment to talent and people’s capacities, those “natural intelligences” within people, the commitment to improving public education: science, technology, entrepreneurial initiative, innovation and culture are the potential and the cultural wealth of societies.
Innovation and culture are the potential and the cultural wealth of societies.
We explain, understand and explore architecture and urban design as a form of learning and knowledge can be the path to achieving the construction of new places that extend urban educational space and use it as a ludic pedagogical strategy. When we talk about learning it is essential to refer about educational structures and concepts, which relate to the concept of pedagogy. Pedagogic spaces are not restricted to educational spaces, as education can occur in almost any structure we develop; space is in itself an educational mechanism that can generate forms of knowledge and information.
The spatial model that addresses these issues must attempt to value the totality of space as a place of education, learning and social relations. In this sense our classrooms as well as circulatory spaces, patios and outdoor areas are designed to respond to the diversity and complexity of activities and events of everyday life. Education through space must be thought of as an organism capable of changing and adapting itself to new types of learning and relations among students, family members and the whole community.
The situation in Colombia, where there are a lot of public works projects to be constructed on a limited budget, a restrictive bureaucracy, and a shortage of time for in-depth consideration and study, as well as political instability, seems similar to other parts of the world in many ways, even areas considered more socially developed. In your experience, what is the key to surviving these problems without sacrificing quality in architecture?
Design strategies not just buildings!
Our designs always aims to explore forms of material and spatial organization through a revision of concepts such as: repetition, indeterminacy, the incomplete, anomaly, instability, contradiction, strategies and protocols of use; and by highlighting the value of these forms as systems of organization with open, intelligent materials that enable them to grow and adapt with time. It is a projectional practice more closely related to the notion of strategy than to a finite and closed architecture designed by a single author. It is an exercise that permits the design of dynamic, participatory methods and configurations, not merely representative ones, predicated on the idea of an open architecture positively disposed towards change.