A research attempt to planning landscape in borders

As mentioned before, research is being carried out at the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana related to the landscape in borders in Medellin. The aim of this work is to contribute to the local authorities’ acquaintance for better political decisions through the production of landscape guidelines applicable in any urban, civil, architectonic or infrastructural intervention that takes place on borders. This is in order to respect and understand the abundant, and by now abused, streams that run down the valley where the city is settled as a landscape structure on its borders. A very important circumstance comes with the city administrator team recently elected, one of whose major interests is focused on the urban rural borders.

2.2 Background

Historians have traced Medellin’s act of foundation in four different dates in between 1575 and 1675, and also the site of foundation has been placed in different points. During the 18th century life in Medellin elapsed in a more rural than urban environment and even today this city shows a closer relationship with the rural environment and traditions than other Colombian towns.

The city was founded later than many other Colombian cities, for example those on the Caribbean coast or the capital city of Bogota. Probably due to the location of the Aburra valley in the middle of an intricate set of rough mountains of difficult access, formed by the Colombian Andes, in Antioquia province a region where the central and west branches of the mountain system get closer, before of descending to the Atlantic Coast swampy savannas. Nevertheless, during the 19th century, Medellin underwent a population growth much higher than the rest of the country (Alvarez, 1996)[3]

While the British industrial revolution expanded to the rest of the First World between 1750 and 1850, South American territories were just being colonized. Industrialization arrived in 1930 in the form of Medellin’s first factory, which as was the case in Manchester, was a textile factory.

The twentieth century brought an extreme increment of population to the city. Even before the demographic explosion the industry progress attracted workers from villages around that exerted a considerable population increase during the 40 s. Since then the occupation process has been markedly informal and only from the second half of the 20th century, when the city had around 360.000 inhabitants, there were important planning efforts (EAFIT, 2010, pg. 50).

About natural resources and their landscape shape, EAFIT Department of Geology, cites Parsons (1997), who mentions a cut on the rock of the southern strait (of the valley), which deviates the river Medellin[4] [5] to be able to explode the gold alluvium. And also mentions that communication between the diverse urban cores of Medellin was difficult because that they were separated by a wide muddy swath (EAFIT 2010 pg. 53). Nowadays, the river is completely channelized and the old muddy swath has been completely occupied. Many industries, administrative buildings and residential units are placed there, separated from the river by main roads that interrupt a sound relationship between people and the main natural landscape feature present in the city.

In the same source the following affirmation is founded: "The covering of the Santa Elena stream (the main affluent of the Aburra river in urban area) started in 1926 and was completed in 1940 by the construction of the Nutibara square and Hotel. The rectification and the channelling of the river was started in 1912 and after several stage it finished with the construction of the Metro in 1985".

La Violencia5 in Colombia began in 1948, having an effect on the main cities, but particularly on Medellin, due to the attractiveness represented by work opportunities in a booming industry. That violence would derive in a hard urban violence that has represented an immense obstacle to a sound development and to a healthy relationship to the landscape.

During the 70’s the city suffered the very negative effects of mafia and drugs and it was sadly named as the most violent city in the world. Nevertheless, Medellin bears other titles that better account of the actual reality and landscape identity: The mountain capital, The city of everlasting spring or The silver cup. It is, as well, the only city in Colombia using the Metro transport system, the first one to establish passengers’ transport by cable and also a well – known touristic destination, positioned to host congresses and conventions.