Local authorities have carried out laudable efforts that have propitiated a wide recognition of the recent development of Medellin throughout the world. There are two outstanding programs that exemplify those efforts: social urbanism and PUI.
Social urbanism is an innovative urban development strategy oriented to solve the conflicting circumstances that had driven the city to a critical situation. It consisted in to investing in grassroots communities in order to pay the "historical debt" that society owed to these urban links of the ignored city. It is not just intended to solve the underlying problems related to housing, employment and poverty. By building metro cables, parks, libraries, schools in high – quality architecture, public spaces, and other projects with a high aesthetic and social impact (Figure 9) it seeks not only to "make the best architecture, which raises pride and self-esteem of the community, an architecture that generates a sense of belonging", but also implement projects to" lead a profound social transformation. "(Mayor of Medellin, 2008).
Fig. 9. Espana Library, Metrocable transport system, the bamboo bridge. Three of the many works recently developed as part of the program "social – urbanism", developed in the east side slope of Medellin.
Integral Urban Projects (known as PUI, in Spanish). "PUI is an urban intervention instrument that gathers physical, social and institutional matters, with the aim of solving specific problems on a defined territory. In this way, the City Hall, using all development tools in a planned and simultaneous manner, gets that actions oriented to development reach vulnerable zones"(Mayor of Medellin 2009).
According to local planning and development authorities the PUI components, in order, are:
• Community participation
• Coordination of diverse institutions plans and efforts
• Housing promotion
• Improvement of public space and mobility
• Alignment and construction of community facilities
• Environmental recovery
A prominent official plan on the topic is the Borders Master Plan carried out by the Urban Development Agency (known as EDU in Spanish). The plan represents a good institutional effort to develop an interdisciplinary exercise, focused on two particular sectors of borders, and that resulted in specific projects, already executed and of good reception from the community. It must be credited to this process the involvement, of a moderate contribution from the landscape discipline. This circumstance opens the door to professional landscape participation in projects leader by public institutions.
The advances in Medellin to improve the urban habitat in all senses deserve all admiration, but it has to be said that landscape has not been attended as much as it ought to have. Many times it is considered a superfluous activity that may be present or not, depending on the budget remaining and that could be solved by planting some trees. That is the landscape professionals’ challenge.