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2018 MCHAP

Residential Passages

El Taller De (S)

Bogota, Colombia

January 2018


Sebastian Serna Santiago Pradilla


BAC Engineering Consultancy Group (Company) AyG ingenieria electrica (Company) BYC INGENIEROS HIDRAULICOS SAS (Company)


Sercorp s.a.s


Enrique Guzman


Colombia has a large housing deficit, estimated at two million units per year. Large builders have responded to this need by developing large blocks of low income housing, where the driving force is the financial profitability of the Project, instead of the architectural quality and overall benefit to those who reside in these projects. Taking this into account, the main objective of this Project is to demonstrate that low income housing and high quality design can coexist. In order to achieve this, we devised three different architectural offerings that weave with the existing urban structures, while maintaining its historical character. The Project maintains the human scale, for which the sector is recognized, and shies away from the massive, homogenous structures that characterize low income housing. This Project uses strategies such as change in volumes and heights, window reflections, game of lights, shadows and perspectives, and the importance of the central, open spaces within the structures. Each building is an example of the application of the aforementioned strategies on spatial variations. Its greatest achievement has been to create dignified and deeply humane housing offering, while maintaining a low budget. This is achieved while subtly blending in with the historical context of the area and urban potential. Residential Passages is a low cost Project (US$800/m2), whose main interest is to provide dignified low income housing in Bogota.


"La Calle Real", as it was known originally, is considered the main axis of Bogotá. Over time, the name changed to Seventh Street and is now responsible for weaving the city from South to North. In its journey, the city’s most iconic structures rise up, awarding it a strong symbolic nature. ?In 1948, “El Bogotazo” devastates the historic center and generates an urban rupture establishing two marked poles, the South and the North. The historical interaction between the most important squares of the colonial city, Plaza Bolivar and Plaza de Las Cruces (which was originally the barrack square) is interrupted. Around the former, there is a barrier of government buildings that turn their backs on the neighborhood of Las Cruces, thus promoting their stigmatization and oblivion. Residential Passages is part of a series of strategic actions that seek to rescue the connection between both sides of the city. Together with the recovery of the hydraulic system of the Fountain of “La Garza”, it is a bet for the regeneration of this part of the city, which has strongly deteriorated. ?The project consists of three low-cost residential buildings, which are adapted to a historical typology that was disappearing, the passages; and that contribute to the existing street profile. This intervention shows that it is possible to return to live in the neighborhood, respecting the history of Las Cruces, and also recovering the Seventh Street as the backbone of the city.


The three buildings that make up the Project understand the community and are seamlessly integrated within it. While the large housing complexes that are currently being built in Bogotá are very closed off to the outside, attempting to guarantee safety, Residential Passages, in its attempt to restore the neighborhood, opens onto the street and propitiates human character within the context. The choice to maintain the existing typology enables the conformation of the street profile and the creation of commerce on the ground floor, which reactivates neighborhood life. ?In the interior, one of the strategies to achieve architectural quality with a low budget has been to understand the void as an essential part of the project. The design of each of the interior courtyards achieves, not only obtaining spatial richness, but also offering a great variety of ways to inhabit it: silent and contemplative spaces are interspersed with places of encounter and recreation. ?The private space consists of a great diversity of housing proposals, a range of possibilities that provide the needs of its inhabitants. This guarantees a neighborhood heterogeneity that enriches community life. The housing units have a direct relationship to the courtyards and gardens with distant views of the city and the mountains but, above all, they are spaces that give the possibility of a private and dignified life.

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