Barranquilla- Public- Economic Space for Migrant Communities in Colombia

Sol y Sombra/Shadow and Light

This online workshop is focusing on the fast developing city Barranquilla in Colombia. The city is currently experiencing unprecedented migration from neighbouring Venezuela and around 8% of the city's population are migrants. The majority is living in informal settlements and relying on informal labour markets for their livelihoods.

This makes the community very susceptible to economic and medical crises such as Covid-19, which we are experiencing globally right now. For vulnerable communities, public space is foremost economic space. The challenge of the workshop will be to design an online public-economic space which is integrated into the physical fabric of informal settlements, and the social realities of the migrant community. We will map the spatial conditions and analyse existing labour economies with the help of our experts on the ground, and using emerging remote working technologies for architects. We will create an overview of existing relevant technologies and solutions in order to design a system of engagement in collective craft and labour.

We will analyse and take inspiration from the existing skills of the community, and design a multi-faceted virtual space which will help formalise their skills and education and provide long-term online-working opportunities. This is a ground-breaking project, which has attracted the attention of the local government and several funding bodies and we hope that this pilot will result in extensive dissemination and implementation. The project is supported by the University of Rosario, local and transnational NGOs, Social Resilience and Climate Change Adaptation Lab, AECOM as well experts in the field of programming and hybrid realities internationally.

Context of Barranquilla

A steady flow of economic and political migrants from Venezuela, into this historical arrival-city, turned into a deluge in 2018-19 and is set to increase even further. The city of 1.2 million inhabitants hosts around 83,000 migrants from Venezuela, a large proportion of whom are in great need of social, economic and legal support. We will work very closely with one community, who live in close proximity to the powerful Magdalena river and the beautiful Caribbean coast, to explore the complex urban, environmental, political, economic and social systems influencing their future. The mapping will show potentialities to create positive social change through design. We will explore, observe and listen. We will use community engagement techniques to involve community members in analysing their situation; through drawing maps, modelling, making diagrams and story-telling (in continuity of the rich verbal tradition of the Caribbean).

Academic Outcomes

This workshop is delivered online, through seminars, online lectures and online collective design workshops. Global Free Unit Classrooms train students in designing a new type of social infrastructure to support civil society and preserve cultural values in communities experiencing displacement or economic and political uncertainty. Our aim is to develop research and put it into action, to give people the tools they require to form a better future for themselves. Students achieve insight into unique community engagement methodologies and are guided through a process of collective research and design, while receiving invaluable insights into real-life situations and how projects are procured in complex contexts.

Barranquilla- Public- Economic Space for Migrant Communities in Colombia

Workshop dates: July 6 - July 17
Collaborators:  Global Free Unit, Venezolanos en Barranquilla, Coalición por Venezuela
Teachers: Alejandro Haiek and Xenia Adjoubei.

Experts / Speakers:  
Juan Viloria, Vice-President, Venezolanos en Barranquilla
T.Luke Young,
  Resilience and Climate Change Adaptation Leader, AECOM, Latin America Alejandro del Castillo, n'UNDO Architects, Madrid  Crystal Whitaker,  former Head of Emergency Shelter Operations, Care UK  and    Dan Smith,  Founder, Active Citizens Programme, British Council, UK  Ronal Rodriguez,  Director, Observatory on Venezuela, Rosario University, Colombia (to be confirmed)

The workshop will consist of a week of preliminary desk research 'from home', one week of fieldwork research in the community in Barranquilla, and one week of spatial and systems mapping on site, which will be followed by two weeks desk-based finalisation and report compilation.
Week 1: Self-led desk research 'from home'. Readings and a set of warm-up tasks will be provided. 
Week 2: Workshop orientation and virtual immersion in contexts: spatial, geographic, social and economic. Students will connect with the community through partners on the ground. Conduct detailed research into designing virtual spaces based on community engagement principles, needs, provision and delivery. The week will also include lectures by invited experts and a mid-workshop presentation by the students to external critics. 
Week 3: Detailed analysis of existing and aspirational skills, labour opportunities and education. Students will suggest detailed designs of collective creative practices, the online portal and its integration into the physical public space/informal spaces. There will also be seminars with invited experts and a public online presentation.  
Weeks 4-5: Self-led finalisation of findings and proposal. Final analysis and formatting, production of individual synthesis and report. 


There will be no physical lectures, meetings, seminars, etc. All teaching will be given online as distance education. 


Apply to the summer course Architecture, Exploration and Reflection and state in your motivation letter why you want to participate in the alternative (2) Barranquilla- Public- Economic Space for Migrant Communities in Colombia.