2nd Place International Architecture Competition

Gramalote, Norte de Santander, Colombia



The project of the farmer's house, posed two major challenges: on the one hand, the possibility of being able to design a building (or a system of buildings) that would make sense to the connections of the “New Gramalote City”(*). The privileged location in the central spot of the area, makes the building take a unique role within the system of proposed equipment. On the other hand, the opportunity to rethink the practices that revolve around agriculture activities.


The proposal is  a set of buildings that show a tribute to the work in the rural areas but simultaneously understand the logics of the landscape, connect the system of public spaces proposed in the urban master plan and the main ecological structure, that is to constitute a large operating space, dynamic for the life in the new village.


(*) Gramalote needed to be relocated after the almost complete destruction in 2010, consequence of heavy rain winter periods, mudslides and  a massive underground erosion. 


It is more than a building or public equipment; Is the synthesis in process of understanding of the historical landscape, of an unpublished program proposed by the contest and the relations of a productive territory. It is the umlaut in the life of those who inhabit this village, but it is also a subtle reading on the idea of rebuilding a village. The memory is who bulk this building. The wall is the essential component of the whole proposal. It is the irreducible of the architecture of the place.


The decision to relocate (or re-fund) the village of Gramalote will respond to the fragile erosion condition of its former site, but also to the area's imminent seismic risk. This decision poses two major problems: first, the displacement or disconnection of certain symbolic codes necessary for the construction of identity and memory (roots); The second, as a consequence of the above, would imply the technical dimension of these issues from an architectural and / or urban point of view. The "new" town will be on opposite slope of the valley, causing the displacement of all the components of the "old" village, what was here, will now be there. The project must connect both sides as part of a whole. On the other hand, it is necessary to understand this transference as a sensible modification in the daily life of Gramalote. The people would be moved in the horizontal direction (front slope) but also in the vertical direction (from near 900 to 1600 meters above sea level).

The incidences would be evident in the sunny and subtle regime in the vicinity of the cold thermal floor (Van der Hammer, 1974). The project must understand the conditions posed from the symbolic and technical point of view, to generate projective strategies that allow to re-signify the presence of the "old Gramalote" in the new: The distant as something close and the notion of refuge, not only as an important architectural attitude of the buildings, but also of the urban spaces that are proposed. That is why the project is raised on the topography to generate a succession of balconies from which you can contemplate the old location, but with an architecturized experience. We study two historical references as places that allude to the big landscape views and connections, but also as a way to connect with and historical condition: Campidoglio, Rome and Piazza del Campo, Siena.

This project from the urban point of view, turns the relationship of the city into the Roman Forum from the Hill of the Capital, to connect symbolically and physically with San Pedro. This operation, of urban - architectural space that turns to obtain a great viewpoint of the ecclesiastical monument, is the strategy that is looked for in our project. The size of the proposed spaces, as well as the size of the farmer's house, are quite narrow. The implantation of the buildings (or of the building) must multiply the relations with the distant and monumental landscape (the old church of Gramalote, the mountain, among others) through its public spaces.

The other historical reference is the Piazza del Campo in Siena, Italy. Two great lessons were transferred from this square to the project. On one hand the idea of ​​the sloping square. Topography exists for architects as a technical reading of the territory. From the human point of view, the tangible is the inclination.. The project made a great effort not to modify the topography, but instead, try to resolve on this, or rather, try to get out of the original condition of the place. So the public space with a certain inclination, provides several special characteristics to the proposal. Tilt makes territory evident, pushes the relationship with the distant, but also incurs the observation of natural elements as part of the experience: The journey of water when it rains, the movement of air when moving a leaf, among others . The second apprehension was the event as part of the multiple responsibilities of urban space. The farmer’s house, although it is an unpublished space from the programmatic point of view, within the conformation of the facilities of the city, its public spaces must assume a double responsibility: the daily life and the event. One of the most interesting things about the villages in the region is the number and variety of events they celebrate. Gramalote, along with neighboring places such as Chinacota or Bochalema, can become the great event center.



The wall is one of the most irreducible elements of architecture. When we analyze the historical context of the urban spaces of Gramalote, we were able to determine that, as in many spanish colonial towns, the relation between the public and the private is determined, defined and filtered by the presence of the WALL. This homogeneous element contains the urban space in a continuous and direct way. The perforations are small steps between the inside and the outside, thus graduating the levels of intimacy of the architecture.

Equipo (en asocio con) : Carolina Garcìa, Juan Carlos Gutierrez, Pablo Zarama, Benjamìn Villa, Natalia Child, Lorenzo Botero