Research Project

Landscape Architecture and Design

© Christian Werthmann

Medellín, Colombia

Re-habitar la montaña:

Estrategias y procesos para un hábitat sostenible en las laddras de Medellín

Landscape Strategies for Informal Neighborhoods

Over the past century, nearly a thousand people have died in various landslide events in the steep, unstable hills surrounding Medellín, Colombia. Most of these disasters have occured in low income communties of unplanned, informal settlements with substandard housing. As real-estate and demographic pressures force more and more people to settle in the dangerous hills, landslide deaths are forecast to increase. While existing planning mechanisms officially forbid settlement on the hills, these regulations to contain growth have largely failed.

In order to address the phenomenon of growth in unsafe areas in a more socially and environmentally secure way, the study “Re-habitar la montaña” seeks to understand the dynamic natural and social processes active in two specific neighborhoods in the hills of Medellín. The objective is to create soft, community-based landscape strategies to mitigate risk in existing settlements, and to proactively address anticipated growth by directing it towards safe sites and away from the riskiest areas. Ultimately, the study proposes five pilot projects containing a variety of potential stratgies in order to develop processes that can be scaled and replicated to address the phenomenon in similar communities throughout the region.

LUH Personnel
Professor Christian Werthmann
Research Fellow: Joseph Claghorn
Research Associate: Nicholas Glenn Bonard
Research Assistants: Florian Depenbrock, Mariam Farhat

Urbam: Centro de estudios urbanos y ambientales – Universidad EAFIT
Director: Alejandro Echeverri
Sub-Director: Francesco Maria Orsini
Project Team: Sebastian Bustamante, Isabel Basombrío, Diana Rincón, Ana Manea, Juan Pablo Ospina, Angela Duque, Daniella Duque, Simón Abad, Lina Rojas

Marco Gamboa, Geologist; Ivan Rendon, Sociologist; Titiana Zuluaga, Architect; CIPAV foundation, Bio-engineering; Sumapaz Foundation, Social engagement and community participation

Funded by
City of Medellín

May 2013-December 2013

Research Report 1
Shifting Ground

Research Report 2
Rehabitar La Montana