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Gran Malecón del Rio Magdalena

Diseños y Conceptos Inteligentes SAS

Barranquilla, Colombia

November 2019


Ricardo Vives Guerra


David Blanco, Francisco Ricardo, Maria Amaya, Alvaro Fernandez


City of Barranquilla


Monica Barreneche - El Bueno Ojo


The main objective behind the project was to create public spaces that facilitate people’s appropriation and the strengthen urban activities. The new riverside park is composed by elements that allow the fluidity and continuity of the connectivity: tree-lined pedestrian paths, cycling lines, a draw bridge and a vehicular road.
The design is articulated by diagnonal lines that suggest the transition between the orthogonality of the cityscape to the natural movement of the river. These diagonals also generate plazas and gardens with visual perspectives towards the river and back to the city itself. This transition can also be perceived in the color and design of the floor tiles and the detail in the handrail, which disappears in the river horizon; but can be percieved from a closer perspective as a clear boundary.
The project has different levels that allow visitors to live the river in many ways, either from the higher areas at 2mts above the water level or from 0.5mts at lowest spaces. This design criteria adds resilience to the entire area, protecting flood prone area from projected high tides over the next 100 years.


A former city mayor, once said: “Barranquilla is mending its relationship with the river. This is the beginning of the new Barranquilla”. The impact of this statement is to be measured against the most ambitious urban regeneration project in the country, 650 ha of land in front of the Magdalena River.
The catalyst for this new Barranquilla is the Gran Malecon, a 4.5km riverside park that is meant become an axis for this regeneration. The project offers over 18ha of new public spaces that will open up the river landscape for the citizens. In Barranquilla, reclaiming acces to th river is particularly important as it had been hidden behind the industries and ports that occupied the brownfields between the Via 40 and the river itself.
The project is designed in 4 functional units, that opened to the public as each one was completed and connected to the urban fabric through secondary roads. This desing strategy allowed for parts of a 6 year project to be put in service in under 30 months, kick starting citizen engagement. Each one of these units has a theme that defines its activities and spaces: 1) Entertainment and Gastronomy, 2) Family and Recreation, 3) Sports and 4) Culture.
Over all, the design wanted to create a version of riverside public space that captured the flavor of Barranquilla and it’s people’s spirit.


The Gran Malecon is a significant milestone in the social dynamic of Barranquilla and is considered the most ambitious project of urban renovation and public space renewal in the city. Since 2017 there have been more than 19 million visitors, making this space the favorite place to visit and a must-see for tourists.

Discovering the splendour of the river´s natural landscape through walkable paths and gardens is one of the main activities, a simple yet meaningful connection with the Magdalena river, the mangrove ecosystem and the view of the natural park ‘Vía Parque Isla Salamanca’.

Its use and impact to the city has gone beyond being an attractive view. Instead, the river is now witness of experiences created by visitors of all ages. Monday through Sunday citizens start early from dawn with physical activities and once the sun sets, its an ideal spot to enjoy parks, eat and drink in over 50 commercial stands including the first food market. It has also boosted a new urban development in the riverfront. This particularly makes the Gran Malecon a desirable opportunity for many local entrepreneurs and investment.

Throughout the year it has been recognized for enabling new river tourism and being one of the official outdoor public venues for cultural events, such as Carnival, theatre and dance performances, concerts and marathons.

All interactions and massive response from visitors has made it possible for the Gran Malecon to be the most visited public space in Colombia

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