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Competition Medellin Experimental Social Housing

Go to the competition

Submission: July 31, 2014
Registration: July 14, 2014
Language: English or Spanish
Location: Medellin, Colombia
Prizes: 1st Prize € 2.500     2nd Prize € 1.000    3rd Prize € 500       1st Prize (young Architects) € 2.000
Type: Open competition for architects and architecture students.

International architectural competition for young architects and students organized by ArchMedium and under the name of Medellin Experimental Social Housing.


In 1991, Medellin was considered to be the most violent city in the world with almost 20 people being shot every day, and one of the five most corrupt cities of Colombia in the year 2003. Society was marked by violence and a strong sense of inequality.

The main problem in Medellin was drug trafficking. The drug cartels had the power in the irregular settlements of the city called “comunas”. The traffickers were turning into public figures such as Pablo Escobar, perhaps the best reference to an eccentric lifestyle of the time.

In the past years, Medellin has carried out social integration policies with the purpose of reducing violence and forming an inclusive city. During the past years large public infrastructure has been developed to connect the territory’s peripheral neighborhoods. The intervention with the most results has been the installation of public facilities and the improvement of the public space of the city.  Nowadays Medellin is an important reference in architecture around the world, and is a perfect example of what is known as social urbanism.


The local government intends to handle the housing program in the near future. Every year the population of Medellin grows by about 30,000 due to a flow of people from the countryside and into the city. These people usually settle in self-built houses on the mountainside, expanding the city limits in an informal and uncontrolled manner.

Through the established program, we propose to regenerate the city through a new mix of building uses in the historic downtown area. Currently, the center of the city is mostly given tertiary use (office buildings and commerce). This project revolves around implementing new residential use by reformulating the adjacent public spaces in a way that includes housing.


The chosen location for this project can be found in La Candelaria neighborhood at the center of Medellin, an area between Rio Medellin park and “parque Berrio”. The entire area is characterized by tertiary use and public equipment.Medellin Experimental Social Housing can be found at the location outlined by Colombia Avenue and Ayacucho street, between 54th and 55th street. Colombia is one of the main avenues of the city and, thanks to the new renovation plan that includes the whole river area, it will become one of the main transverse roads of Medellin, joining the river with parque Berrio.

This particular location has a total surface area of 5820m2 and is currently occupied for different uses. 3450m2 correspond to a parking lot on the surface, 1029m2 to commercial establishments, 2942m2 to office spaces, 386m2 to storage and 822m2 to a church.


Medellin Experimental Social Housing will mainly accommodate a group of homes that take into account the current variety of people or families living in one place (single-parent families, classic families, students, people working from home, etc.). Aside from this, new housing will have to offer an important part of public space, viewing this as areas for relating to others and recreation.

See full brief here:


The jury will be formed by the following members:

  • Jordi Badía – President
  • Josep Bohigas – Piso piloto
  • Zaida Muxí – Housing lab
  • Ethel Baraona – Architecture critic
  • Federico Ortiz – Young architect
  • Julio Serna – Local architect


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