A Medellin art collective claims to be fighting to preserve the city’s architectural heritage, as they ask the city government to support a cultural center developed in an abandoned mansion.
The artist collective have developed Plazarte in a huge 1930’s house in Prado, formerly Medellin’s finest residential neighborhood, and one of the city’s most architecturally significant areas.
Prado was constructed in the 1930’s, when wealthy families bought a large plot of land near the city center and created a European-inspired environment of mansions and tree-lined avenues.
Though earmarked for conservation in the city’s 2009 “Heritage Protection Plan,” Prado today is characterized by faded splendor. As the city expanded, the wealthy relocated to safer suburbs, and many of the houses are now in various stages of disrepair. The area has a reputation as a no-go zone after dark, due to prostitution and street crime.
According to founder of the collective Mirtha Lucia Burbano, the fact that the area empties at night is central to Prado’s problem, and one of the main things Plazarte hopes to change; “Plazarte is the only space that opens at night [in Prado], along with one other cultural center. We realized when we opened the house and started to put on events, that people welcomed this as a necessity.”
According to Burbano, Plazarte has the support of residents and cultural groups, but lacks finances. “We have the knowledge, we have the support of the community, what we need is money,” said Burbano.
The collective are currently gathering thousands of signatures at Plazarte, which will be sent to the government as part of a legal bid to have the house bought by the local authority and entrusted to the group.