With its undulating roof profile, the Coliseums, a complex built for the 2010 South American Games in Medellín, Colombia, appears as a mountain — albeit a caricature of one — in the midst of the city. Indeed, the design team, the offices of Bogotá-based Mazzanti Arquitectos and Medellín-based plan:b arquitectos, conceived the project, which is sited in surreal juxtaposition to the Andes in the background, as a new landform within the Aburrá Valley.
Shortly after Medellín was selected to host the 2010 South American Games, the city (which has been much hyped for its recent architectural renaissance) set forth plans for significant investments in athletic facilities. And, in mid-2008, in cooperation with the public agency Institute for Sports and Recreation (INDER) and the Colombian Society of Architects, it sponsored an open international competition for a series of gymnasiums. The selected site housed preexisting sporting facilities, such as a stadium and aquatics center, some of which had fallen into disrepair. Among these was the Iván de Bedout basketball coliseum built for the 1978 Central American Games. The competition brief called for a new facade for this arena, as well as three new facilities to accommodate gymnastics, martial arts, and volleyball. With the March 2010 Games creating a hard deadline, the winning team had just 18 months from competition to completion of the 493,000-square-foot, $50 million project.