Just back from Colombia, where I spoke (along with other Americans, MoMA’s Barry Bergdoll and Steven Holl’s Chris McVoy) at the recent Colombian architecture biennial, which was held in Medellín and followed on the heels of the VII Bienal Iberoamericana de Arquitectura y Urbanismo (BIAU). While the BIAU attracted around 5,300 participants from about 27 different countries, attendees of the somewhat smaller XXII Bienal Colombiana de Arquitectura were, of course, predominantly Colombian.
Here is the conference center (by Colombian architects Daniel Bonilla and Giancarlo Mazzanti), with its enormous subterranean auditorium that seats over 3,000. The Andes are an everpresent backdrop for the city.
Speakers (or “conferencistas”) and other participants had the opportunity to visit a number of the projects that have helped bring the city into the spotlight in recent years.
Camilo Restrepo Arquitectos and Plan:B Arquitectos' Orquideorama in the Botanic Garden served as one of many venues for the Iberoamerican Biennial.
The courtyards inside Rogelio Salmona's posthumously constructed Moravia Cultural Center (December 2007).
The swimming complex, constructed for the 2010 South American Games, by Paisajes Emergentes.
The athletic coliseums, also constructed for the South American Games, by Giancarlo Mazzanti and Felipe Mesa.
For 2010, the Iberoamerican Biennial did not honor any particular work. Instead, “Best Play Awards” were given to 35 projects across Latin America. The Colombian Biennial, on the other hand, selected winners in eight different categories and honored the Colegio Santo Domingo, by Medellín-based ObraNegra Arquitectos, as the overall winner.
The Santo Domingo school is tucked into the side of the mountain in a poor neighborhood on the outer reaches of the city. The building was done on a shoestring budget and employs a simple material palate of concrete and wood. Its mass is tempered by being partially subterranean and interiors are animated with double-height areas in public spaces and generous connections to the outside.