Social Urbanism: The Key for COEXISTENCE.


Migrant: person that arrives to a country or region different from its place of origin, to establish itself in it. Temporarily or definitively.
In human history, migrations have been always present: From prehistoric, Middle Ages and America´s discovery, until Industrial Revolution, Wars and the actual Climate Change period. Cities have been the responsible of receiving thousands of diverse people, coming from other places, looking for new opportunities, better job, better homes and better life´s quality. Understanding “Cities” as living and dynamic spaces, with the architectonic factor becoming before the social factor, can guide us to think that cities are the result of “the human effort of coexistence1. But… is this “coexistence” possible, if not having an integration planning, acceptance of differences, and Social Urbanism?
There is one idea that I would like to share: “Urban acupuncture” from Jaime Lerner (architect, urban planner and mayor from Curitiba, Brazil. United Nations awarded him with the Maximum Environmental Award in 1990). He define urban acupuncture as the “awaking beginning”. He referred to specific, limited and punctual urban interventions with the capacity of making wide and extended repercussions. Interventions seeking connectivity between the informal and the planned city. Interventions that works on identity limitations concepts. Environmental visions. Inclusive ideas from the citizens and their living spaces.  Understanding of “Citizens as the solution, not the problem”2.
Inspiring interventions
Influenced by some European cities with regeneration models, from 1995 to 1999, the city of Medellin (Colombia), start a strategic and participatory planning to get social equity levels. This PUI (in Spanish: “Proyecto Urbano Integral”)  would end giving Medellin nothing more and nothing less than world´s recognition of one of the most inclusive urban designed cities, getting prices such as the last 2016 Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize, and reaching their main goals: increase education, decrease insecurity.
Medellin started in 2004 inaugurating the first library-park and the cable car that leads up to it from the foot of the hills, and never stopped. Nowadays, there are several hybrid library-parks (part community centres and part much-needed public spaces), two cable car systems and the outdoor escalator running.3
Other emerging solution to social integration process has been the creation of Greenways: green and linear planned spaces designed for big cities. The first generations of Greenways were mostly constructed for recreational and esthetical needs like the boulevards or avenues from Paris by the beginning of XX Century. Then became a second generation, giving answers to industrialization process, proving citizens the access to natural resources such as clean air spaces with water, located in the centre of the cities. However, nowadays, the idea of these linear parks has evolved to much more: Spaces are design to “provide an answer to physical and psychological pressure from the urbanization process” (Searns, 1995). Having mains goals far beyond the environmental recovery of an area, but mostly to reach the transformation of urban space and social processes that are developed in its area of influence. Project based on Greenways can be found in Fortaleza, Brazil (Linea Park Rachel de Queiroz) or in Medellín, Colombia (Parque de los Sentidos, recovery of Quebrada Ana Díaz)4.
“Villa 31” is a deprived area located in Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina. People that comes to live to this “Villas” (“Favelas” in Brazil, “Comunas” in Colombia, “Ranchos” in Venezuela) normally are symbol of lacking or poor people, that has arrived from bordering countries or cities from other location of the country. Naturally, socially excluded. Although the government had already started their plan on edifications and improving urbanization, the social integration goal was lacking, making still difficult to get into the neighbourhood because of the high insecurity level, and the differences between social strata. As a result, a new idea came up: to move the National Ministry of Education to this deprived area5.
Today, this ministry is located in five different points of the city of Buenos Aires. The project is to move all the offices and sell the older building to finance the transition. The World Bank and the BID would be willing to pay at least 170 million dollar or double it, if necessary. As a result, is expected an integration between the neighbours, pubic administration employees, and all the stakeholders involved in this working area.
Personal ideas
Seeing that people continues migrating from one place to another looking for a place to build a better future, makes me think that following the urban acupuncture idea can be a good option. (The number of people living in cities will almost double to some 6.4 billion by 2050)6.
I believe the essence of one space get value when people respect it and “appropriate it”, that´s why citizens are not the problem, are the solution.  However, I also think the first step must be a political decision, and then of course, the citizens support. Medellin has shown us that the formula to get the social inclusive goals is to have successive and tune up good governments.  It not worthy to undo or stop working on policies or projects in which previous government succeed, just for political differences. Integral development policies and projects with socio-cultural, institutional and economic benefits can provide social dynamics for integration.
We do not imagine how much we can learn from a person that belong to other social strata. When sharing a public space, we loss the frame reference of personal and private life from the people we don´t know. We just move our focus attention and we forget where that person belongs.
Working with collaborative project based on Sustainable Urban Planning focused on social-stimulation-common areas can make social labels disappear.
References and research material

1.Fabio Quetglas, Master en gestión de ciudades

Fabio Quetglas
2. Jaime Lerner.
Jaime Lerner
3. Medellin
4. Lineal Park projects
5. Villa 31 urbanization
Villa 31 urbanization
 Villa 32 urbanization
6. Migrations to cities:

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