The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


UN Habitat praises the co-creation of a Living Heritage Atlas by MSc BUDD students and partners

23 June 2020

The work was part of a learning alliance between MSc Building and Urban Design in Development from the DPU, the Moravia Cultural Centre, the Moravia Resiste Collective, and the Cooperative Coonvite from Medellin, Colombia.

Colombia 2020 Living Heritage Atlas

Despite being in the midst of the pandemic, for more than a month, more than 62 participants working from 13 different countries met in the co-presence of the digital space to tackle a common challenge: how to address research-based design to have an impact in the city decision-making process inspired by popular education. Participants undertook a co-creation process to frame the inquiry on Living Heritage based on four analytical axes: systems of care, memory, and migrations, landscapes of recycling and community connections, and communication.

The main site of inquiry, Moravia, has been the laboratory of spatial interventions and has endured long-term eviction threats. During the engagement, participants wanted to grasp the complexities and contradictions of urban transformations to rethink different urban futures for Moravia through a living heritage approach as a way to respond to those threats. The notion of Living heritage was conceived as a tool to rethink urban futures, as such, the Atlas also presents intervention formulated from our multiple understandings of Moravia, especially from those who inhabit the neighbourhood

Although the co-creation occurred remotely, new affective cartographies were generated, shaped by the participants’ commitment, enthusiasm, and dedication in spite of their different personal situations and locations. The type of design based research cultivated in the co-creation process was based on the dialogue of knowledge(s), intergenerational learning, and storytelling to promote collective imagination to advance towards spatial justice.

The output of this work was condensed in an Living Heritage Atlas. Catalina Ortiz, the leader of the process explains that an “Atlas contributes to create realities, allow us to make visible certain territories and to mobilize imagined geographies. We portrayed some practices of living heritage that deserve to be protected and departing from them we propose strategies of socio-spatial interventions that enable us to tell another story of Moravia to the city”.  

The results of the co-creation process were presented in a launch event on June 5th where the Atlas and a new song produced was presented to the public. Key guests were from Medellin Local Government, the Global Platform of the Right to the City and UN Habitat. Particularly, UN habitat Director for Latin American and the Caribbean, Elkin Velasquez, praised the collective work to be inspiring for the region as reported by the LA network. The Atlas content will be used as part of the key inputs to the newly created city plan 'the Board to negotiate Moravia's future'.

You can download the Atlas here.

You can listen to the song “A dream of dignity” here