Keywords Change this

Community Centre, Recycle

Project timeline

2010 – 2011


Education & Research

Location Change this


Current state


Architect Change this


Ana Džokić, Marc Neelen, María Camila Vélez, Yesenia Rodríguez, Juan Esteban Sandoval, Alejandro Vasquez Salinas - with the participation of teachers and students from the Architecture Faculty of Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Medellín (Jorge Alberto Arango, Cesar Augusto Muñoz Toro, Jenny Paola Sierra, José León Gómez, German Tamayo)

Cultural Development Node No. 1 Change this

1 of 5

Description Change this

Cultural Development Node No. 1 'El Morro' is the first of architectural interventions to expand the reach and capacity of the quite recent, but already highly successful Cultural Development Center of Moravia (CDCM), located in one of the poorest neighbourhoods of Medellín, Colombia – area with extreme social and environmental challenges. Available for Moravia's entire community, the Node is a test case of decentralising cultural community development programs into the neighbourhood through temporary cheap structures. The new spaces are made mainly from locally recycled materials and completed with the skills of local craftsmanship. The project has been initiated by the CDCM and El Puente_Lab in 2010, who invited STEALTH.unlimited to join them. The Node opened its doors in April 2011.

In 2004, under the guidance of mayor Sergio Fajardo, the Municipality of Medellín began an integrated strategic plan to recover the neighbourhood of Moravia, that by then reached an extreme population density, with 42,000 inhabitants, 15,000 living on top of the de-activated garbage dump 'El Morro'. Moravia grew as an illegal settlement since the 1960s. The municipal garbage dump, established here in 1977 and closed in 1984, became a source of neighbourhood's survival, based on recuperation of any recyclable materials. Due to national social conflicts of the early 1980s, people from rural areas who were pushed to the city, appropriated the garbage hill and its surrounding and built their life there, in perplexingly tough conditions and with a desperate lack of public space and facilities. Through the expansion of the city in the last decades Moravia finds itself right in the midst of it.

A significant sign of the neighbourhood's rebirth made through this plan is the initiation of the Cultural Development Center of Moravia (CDCM), whose aim is to promote culture, education and the arts, and which was built on request of the community. The centre opened in 2008, on a plot of land set free by the inhabitants of Moravia, and designed by a renown Colombian architects, Rogelio Salmona. In the first three years the CDCM has served nearly 500.000 inhabitants.

The intense use of the centre and the important role that it got in the life of the neighbourhood brought the necessity to extend it. Instead of waiting for the location and finances for a 'proper' building to come together, the team made the decision to adopt a more flexible approach by using cheaper means and starting with a temporary space. Considering that the 'El Morro' garbage dump is on the verge of being fenced off and environmentally sanitised for the next 25 years – a process that will have a large impact on the community, its economy and its future – the location of the intervention has been positioned right at the edge of the dump. Moravia is a quarter based on recycling economy, naturally these, locally available reclaimed materials, have been adopted for the project. This inverts the design process, starting from the found materials that vary from day to day (like packaging leftovers from local industry, plastic crates and containers, metal parts, etc.).

Principles for the search of possible materials for the realisation of the structure and the internal furnishings were set in a three-weeks workshop during August 2010. The team proceeded to design three spatial units: a reading space for children, an arts and crafts workshop and a multi-functional terrace for events (like the neighbourhood kitchen of Cocineros de Moravia, cooking on Saturdays for over 150 children). A (steel) structure has been built that accommodates the recycled elements, including glass fridge doors or parts of a discarded bus (seats and windows). The body of the bus was used to build a public terrace. All was realised during the first months of 2011, employing craftsmen from the neighbourhood in the furnishing of the spaces. The project was inaugurated on April 15, 2011. With its no-nonsense design, flexibility of use and its strong aesthetics, the Cultural Development Node No.1 'El Morro' is the first space of its kind in the neighbourhood and in Medellín.


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