The Bartlett School of Architecture


Caue Capille



Spatial cultures of public libraries: the role of architecture in constructing collectivity in Medellín


The Library-Parks of Medellín were built as part of major transport and educational infrastructures that have been reshaping this city since the 1990s, affecting especially the areas of the city with the most underprivileged populations.

The portion “park” in the Project’s title is due to the fact that these facilities are supposed not only to represent urban change through their monumentality, but most importantly to produce this change through the arrangement of spaces that can generate a new sense of community and citizenship through informal co-inhabitation.

However, co-inhabitation that is expected to happen in the libraries is fundamentally different from the one that happens in public spaces of those informal contexts, since the former is housed by architectural space instead of urban space. This fact opens a series of questions regarding the instrumental use of architecture in the formation of collective cultures.

Architecture structures relationships through the silent framing of everyday experience, i.e. it is an always-present constraint to the infinite forms of occupation, movement and interaction. Through these constraints, it produces a field of probable patterns of use that precedes its manifestation as collectivity.

Since the Library-Parks have very different spatial structures they cannot be regarded as constructing the same patterns of use, and therefore are buildings that may differ significantly in what they serve for society. This research investigates on the ways in which these buildings are being used and on the ways in which architecture gives structure to these forms of use as a collective whole.

Some of the early findings suggest that while some Library-Parks function as places that support the emergence of self-organised social groups based on co-awareness and co-presence, potentially strengthening the collective engagement of the surrounding communities; others function as places that facilitate the exercise of institutional-bureaucratic power over society through spatial-disciplinary mechanisms.


Cauê graduated in Architecture and Urbanism at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), where he worked in two research groups (awarded a scholarship from CNPq – Brazilian National Council for Research) and where he also worked as Teaching Assistant in four undergraduate design studios from 2009 to 2011. In 2013, Cauê published the book ‘Metropolitan Rio’, which has received Honourable Mention at the IX Bienal Iberoamericana, and at the IAB Annual Award (2013) (Institute of Architects of Brazil).

Cauê is currently a PhD researcher at the Bartlett, where he has recently worked as Postgraduate Teaching Assistant in two modules of the 'Spatial Design: Architectures and Cities' MSc Course: 'Emerging Design Research' and 'Architectural Phenomena' (2014-15). Some of Cauê's works, awards and publications can be accessed at cargocollective.com/cauecapille.