buildings to explore the new facet of Medellín, Colombia

The guide

Alejandro Echeverri, one of the urbanists responsible for the reformulation of the city.



The pavilion inside the Botanical Garden of Medellín, which serves as home for the Festival of Books, is the result of an architecture competition won by Felipe Mesa, Alejandro Bernal, Camilo Restrepo and Paul Restrepo in 2005. Its ‘umbrellas’ largely changed the mentality of people who had never before visited the city’s north side. “The place was able to integrate people from all social strata,” says Echeverri, “and turned into a reference of study for international academic centers.”


Coliseos del Estadio

Cra. 72 #48-146

It was built for the 2010 South American Games, and, being that the structure has intermediary spaces, it allows people outside to feel what is going on inside the coliseums. “One of the architects of this system of buildings was Felipe Mesa, who also participated in the project for the Orquideorama, and perhaps this is why we get practically the same sensation at the Botanical Garden pavilion.”


Parque Biblioteca de Belén

Cra. 76 #S/N

Designed by architect Hiroshi Naito, this park was donated by the Japanese government in 2006 by way of Tokyo University. Its traditionally Japanese gallery architecture, water system and patios paradoxically connect with the local culture of patios on old houses. “The library conveys to me a unique sense of peace, and this is what ultimately makes architecture relevant: it provides us with moments.” 


PUI Nororiental

Authored by Echeverri, this project sums up a good part of the urbanist intervention executed in crime stricken neighborhoods, which he carried out as manager of the Urban Development Company at the beginning of this century (2007). “What we wanted – and managed – to do was dignify, via staircases, bridges, overlooks and cable cars, the route that people travel in an excluded neighborhood. It is pure urban architecture.”


Museo de Antioquia

It’s also known as the Botero Museum, being home to the biggest collection of works by painter/sculptor Fernando Botero. Inaugurated in 1937 as a government building, it’s one of the few in Medellín that safeguard the memory of that time. “It has resisted the change in function, and its main attributes are its austerity and refinement. I also like it because it’s our best version of Art Deco.”


Parque de los Pies Descalzos

Cra. 58 #42-125

Designed by the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana’s laboratory of urban planning in 1998, this project marked its era by placing the idea of recuperating rundown public spaces on the city’s agenda. “It’s interesting because it brought us back to the streets at an extremely violent time in the city’s history, and, from an architectural point of view, it’s among the most refined works because of its details.”


Aeroporto Olaya Herrera

Located in the city’s south side, this airport only runs domestic flights and was designed by Elías Zapata in 1957. Due to its architectural significance, it was recognized as a National Monument, but its spatial design seems to go almost unnoticed by local residents. No one takes pictures of it. “It is pure expressive architecture,” says Echeverri, “what moves me about this work is its shell, which evokes a sensation of clouds and wings.” 


LATAM has direct flights to Medellín departing from: Bogotá, Cartagena, San Andrés and Santa Marta.