Intermediate 8 Irene Squilloni, Hexuan Yu (Tommy), Clara Schwarz and Fang Lee, Intermediate 8 (2015-16) - models, material experiments on vertical living

Politics of the Vertical Living: Reimagining the High-Rise Building in Bogotá

Francisco González de Canales and Nuria Alvarez Lombardero

Land scarcity and population growth are two major issues of concern in today's Latin American cities. In Bogotá, for example, one attempt to densify the existing urban territory was the government's 2014 relaxing of building height regulations. As a consequence, mega-projects and high-rise buildings are indiscriminately being erected across the city. While most proposals have achieved high levels of densification, some outdated schemes are generating unexpected urban conflicts, fuelling land privatisation, disconnection to urban context and social disengagement.

Given both the problems and the possibilities of this situation, Intermediate 8 will explore alternative models of high-rise construction by deeply engaging with Bogotá's infrastructure, context and public services. Students will work on a high-rise mixed-use building located along the recently planned metro line - connected to the well-known Transmilenio bus rapid transit system - using a sample 10,000m2 footprint area and maximum height of 150m to match both the average area of a city block and the average height of a high-rise building. Continuing the legacy of radical public urban proposals in both Bogotá and Medellín, students will test the incorporation of public programmes clustered around housing units to service a minimum of 5,000 users, thus multiplying the density of the existing city tenfold.

By seeking different ways of subverting the typically privatised character of high-rise buildings and investigating the potential of their civic role - their engagement with context and ability to support innovative collective ways of living - this year's brief will open up our imaginations to the future of vertical living. Projects will be developed based on the Intermediate 8 academic structure - material, formal and urban investigations will be conducted throughout the year, with an emphasis on model-making as a design tool. Comparative analysis and research between the verticalisation processes of London and Bogotá will be addressed to engage with a more transversal critical conversation on our cities today.

Unit Staff

Francisco González de Canalesstudied architecture at ETSA Seville, ETSA Barcelona and Harvard University, and worked for Foster + Partners and Rafael Moneo. He is co-director of Canales & Lombardero and has lectured in England, Chile, Mexico, Spain and the US. Among his recent publications are First Works (2009), Experiments with Life Itself (2012), Rafael Moneo: A Theoretical Reflection through the Professional Practice (2013) and Rafael Moneo: Building, Teaching and Writing (2015).

Nuria Álvarez Lombardero studied architecture and urbanism at ETSA Madrid and the AA and worked for Machado & Silvetti Associates in Boston. She is co-director of Canales & Lombardero and has previously taught at the University of Cambridge, TEC Monterrey and the University of Seville. Her work related to her PhD, on the dissolution of boundaries traced by modern urban planning, has been widely published, and her book Arquitectas: Redefining the Practice, was recognised at the eighth Spanish Biennial of Urbanism and Architecture.

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