In the fall of 2013, the Insitu coordination team was approached by Ruta N, the Medellin based centre for innovation, proposing to create a city-wide Insitu project that would take place during the Medellin Innovation Festival (November 2013). In partnership with the City of Medellin (Alcaldía de Medellín); Ruta N, the National University of Colombia-Medellín (UNAL); FabLab UNAL, Blokcad Lab and uAbureau design studio, Insitu Comuna Innova was created with the goal of developing 21 public projects throughout greater Medellin; a public installation in 16 central districts (comunas) and 5 regional communities (corregimientos).

Comuna Innova is a project that is based on community engagement, working with citizens and exploring new technologies all with the common goal to ameliorate public space in Medellin. The coordinating team was supported by over fifty community liaisons, local designers and builders where they collaborated with citizens from all 21 communities creating a regional planning strategy developed through social participatory design.

Comuna Innova is a social and collaborative project that showcases the array of layers and relationships that fills Medellin. It demonstrates that innovation is not a term that only applies to technology, but also to the social environment and to the dialogues that come to create a community. The Insitu Comuna Innova team of over 150 immersed themselves in many different processes to complete the project, from public consultation to advanced digital modelling, from construction work to research and documentation. Insitu is not only a project to build 21 installations for the present Medellin, but more importantly it is a way to open up a dialogue with the City so the conversation about the importance of public space and social innovation continues.

The first phase of Comuna Innova began with public workshops in each community where neighbourhood plans were developed by citizens identifying areas that required improvement as well as potential sites for new public space installations. Taking this outline, local artists and designers were invited to collaborate in the development of a feasible project that would stimulate the desired changes of the community. To do so, teams quickly moved between design development, prototyping and final installation with the use of digital fabrication techniques including 3D modelling software and CNC machines while also using a hybrid concrete mixture made from discarded construction waste. The diverse projects built vary in scale and type ranging from outdoor community kitchens, playgrounds and skate parks to modular seating installations, murals and night-time projections; each helping to create a sense of place within the rapidly changing environment of Medellin.


List of Comunas + Project Type:

COMUNA 1 Popular – Skate Park: Repurposed Vacant Lot
COMUNA 2 Santa Cruz – Memorial Wall: Representing Local Victims of Violence
COMUNA 3 Manrique – Multi-Purpose Outdoor Public Stage: Salsa Dancing
COMUNA 4 Aranjuez Moravia – Urban Agriculture: Modular Urban Planter Elements
COMUNA 5 Castilla – Mobile Outdoor Hip Hop Scenography: Breakdancing Stage, DJ/Puppet Booth, Graffiti Artist Stands
COMUNA 6 12 de Octubre – Community Kitchen: Redevelopment of Underutilized Park
COMUNA 7 Robledo – Urban Ecosystem Plug: Facade Birdhouse Element
COMUNA 8 Villa Hermosa – Urban Agriculture: Community Orchard
COMUNA 9 Buenos Aires – Furniture: Table + Chair Elements to Build Robotic Projects
COMUNA 10 La Candelaria – Parasite Urban Elements: Green Wall Tile, Water Counter Covers + Modular Seating
COMUNA 11 Laureles Estadio – Skate Park: Plaza Redevelopment with Modular Skate Elements
COMUNA 12 La America – New Urban Park: Outdoor Gym, Playground + Community Kitchen
COMUNA 13 San Javier – Interactive Digital Graffiti: Mobile Projection/Mapping Units
COMUNA 14 El Poblado – Sidewalk Signposts: Local Designer + District Information
COMUNA 15 Guayabal – Multipurpose Park: Topographical Green Landscaping for Gathering, Picnic, Parkour + Bmx Activities
COMUNA 16 Belen – Mobile Interactive Elements: Immersive Digital Environment of Projection and Interaction in Public Library Courtyard

List of Corregimientos + Project Type:

Altavista – Playground Landscape: Slide
San Cristobal – Urban Agriculture: Chicken Coop
San Antonio – Urban Furniture: Elementary School Library
San Sebastián de Palmitas – Suspended Canopy: Local Library Stairs
Santa Elena – Green Wall: StoryTeller Scenography

Ruta N + Alcaldía de Medellín + Facultad de Arquitectura – Universidad Nacional de Colombia UNAL sede Medellín + uAbureau