Barranquilla is one of the largest cities in Colombia with an estimated population of 1.2 million located on the northern Caribbean coast. The city lies where the Magdalena River meets the Caribbean Sea defining its rich history of economic and social development and making it today a hotspot growth and urban development.
The Gran Malecon is considered the most ambitious project of urban renovation and public space of the city. It’s an 18 acres intervention on the city´s riverfront and former industrial area. Its execution was divided in 4 phases including various outdoor activities, cultural and sport areas, dog park and commercial stands, all connected through walkable paths and gardens, alongside the Avenida del Río, a new arterial road that integrates the river to the city from north to south and with 4 main commercial streets running along east to west.
The project’s first phase opened with 500 lineal meters on the riverfront and with the second phase, visitors increased up to 14 million becoming the favorite place to visit and a must-see for tourists for its space quality and daily activities led by the entity dedicated to city development, Puerta de Oro.
For many years, citizens were estranged from the river which was isolated from the city’s landscape and identity, today Gran Malecon is the only metropolitan park in Barranquilla successfully reestablishing the citizen-nature relationship.
Typical characteristics from Barranquilla were taken into a count in the entire design, topography, geography, history, neighbors and climate, all seen in elements such as materials, colors and concept in the actual project.
The design is composed by diagonal lines that highlight the subtle transition from the rigid orthogonality of the city, to the natural fluid movement of the river. This transition can be perceived in the whole design, from the color of “the floor that goes from dark grey symbolizing streets, cars, to the light sand of nature, river and plants”, and the different design levels that lead to the lowest part reaching the river and creating a closer connection with the water. These levels vary in height along the entire circuit, a strategy that adds resilience to the project providing areas that adapt to natural phenomenon without losing activities or damaging the park.
Most of the furniture proposed is uniquely designed for the weather and the space created, composed by ergonomic benches, special rails, bicycle racks, special floor tiles and root containers perfectly related with the tiles pattern.
Ensuring public safety and its perception was key in the project development with three different types of illumination responding a specific use. The tallest ones have a wider range to light up the river at night, which has never been illuminated before and seeks avoiding the dark void of the natural landscape. The smallest ones are near the trees in order to prevent shadow once they grow. Lastly the street light was made specially to illuminate the road and the cycling track and pedestrian walkway simultaneously.