More than 75% of Latin America’s 600 million inhabitants live in cities, a record for the developing world. Bogota’s annual urbanization rate, 5.5%, is one of the highest urbanization rates in Latin America. In 1985, 70% of Bogota’s population lived in the city, compared to 30% in 1930. This migration increase has created a demand for a new downtown Bogotá.
History shows traditional urban planning strategies collapse under the quick cycle of mayors, political corruption, and other governmental inconsistencies; therefore, a bottom-up scenario needs to be utilized in future development.
WHAT IS BOTTOM UP URBANISM?
A recent initiative by Rodrigo Nino of Prodigy Network, “My Ideal City ”, proposes to rebuild Downtown Bogota from the Bottom up. Together with important innovators such as Gary Hack, an Urban Planner responsible for Manhattan’s WTC area and West Side development, PSFK, an English trend research group and crowd sourcing expert, we worked together with Rodrigo and the Sponsor BD Promotores to develop a platform where the people in Bogota help create their city by interacting in proposals made for their Downtown in crowd sourcing [web and radio] thus impacting design through real time interaction and direct feedback.
Once the different initiatives are defined, the process is completed by the population crowd funding it's own initiatives. A first amazing example is BD Bacatá, a project developed by BD Promotores, where Prodigy Network has brought together more than 3,500 investors, who have invested more than 200 million dollars, making it the largest skyscraper in Colombia's history and the world record in crowd funding.
We envisioned a new Bogota via FOUR SCENARIOS;
THE FIRST SCENARIO is a bottom up approach for the demographics. About 7x as many people commute to the city vs. live there, causing major congestion, but also leaving the downtown desolate every night. Around 1,000,000 are students, coming from the richer North residential areas and from the south and west poorer regions. For example if these 1.7 million people that congest the city during their "home-work-home" commute, could live in Bogotá Downtown, the panorama would be different. A major revitalization of Downtown could be established by creating new student housing, reduce traffic and pollution, thus solving not one but three problems at the same time.
THE SECOND: Big Box + Recycling. There are some retailers at Bogota's Calle 19 and K30, adjacent to existing light industries, providing the right scale and access for a new big-box development. The wealthier population from the north and various student populations will frequent the restaurants and shops here. Primary north-south commuters will be detoured and perhaps directed into the city center through this commercial location. This proposal therefore is meant to engage both near and distant populations. But how does this tie in to recycling? Big retail stores produce vast amounts of waste, supermarkets generate an estimated 15 tons of waste weekly, but there is a negative perception towards people who recycle. Many recyclers are treated as ‘street people’ even though it is a form of employment for them. The Carrefour hypermarkets are established in many countries and are serious promoters of recycling. There are 11 Carrefour hypermarkets in Bogota, one of them is located in our site along the K30 and across from the Paloquemao neighborhood. This is a great location for Big Box attractors, such as a terminal combining retail and a bus station, serving as the programmatic generator for the area. The combination of a transportation hub with large superstores presents the potential for instant commercial growth.
THE THIRD SCENARIO is the revitalization of one of the many rivers, the Rio Fucha. In April 2009 Rio Fucha flooded due to heavy rainfall. Bogota’s rivers have mostly been contained in concrete basins, causing massive pollution drying out of the land and hence: floods. Currently Bogota has only 3% of its original wetlands left, this causes major floods and droughts every year! By taking the Rio Fucha out of its concrete bed, and by naturalizing the riverbed, water will be naturally filtered and cleaned, soil will not dehydrate, and floods will be absorbed by the surrounding parkscapes. The creation of community gardens, pollutant removing flowerbeds, and urban agriculture will provide locals with work and income and through farmers markets a fair distribution of food. The now restored natural riverbed also becomes an attractor for recreation, sports and eventually maybe for Bogota to be the next location for the Olympics.
THE FOURTH involves bottom-up insertions into an existing park, Parque Tercer Milenio. Drastic removal of drug and crime-related inhabitants created an open plot of land, which is now filled with the Parque, activated by people from surrounding neighborhoods. However, we thought the park could be activated by new inputs, by the people, and for the people. Solution? Expanding the park and using it as a connector element. Activating it with activities such as recreation, playgrounds, pop-up theaters, and sports, makes it a connector and also a filter between East and West Bogota. A park of greater scale is also the “lung” an ecological essence of any city plan, such as in Paris, Chicago, London, NYC, and many other cities in the world.
The people in Bogota help create their city through participation and feedback in these proposals through real time interaction. “My Ideal City” goals far exceed the city limits of Bogota, in fact the campaign aims to inspire a global discussion of the needs and wants of the next generation of urban dwellers. My Ideal City has recruited top thought leaders of industry to help create and build this city of tomorrow, built by the people of today.