Ciudadelas de Paz - Building for Peace
Manaure, Cesar, Colombia
image: Ramón Bermúdez | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Location:
Manaure, Cesar, Colombia
Category:
housing
Phase:
design development
Updated:
12 August 2021
Ciudadelas de Paz is a mutual aid housing cooperative in Colombia established by 350 ex-combatants seeking a collective reincorporation into society. Through participatory design and construction of a communal building, this project supports ex-combatants reincorporation into civil society by raising awareness about cooperative values and principles, and strengthening the organisational and technical capacity of cooperative construction units.
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Introduction
After more than 50 years of armed conflict, in 2016, Colombia’s government and FARC signed a peace agreement and initiated efforts to reincorporate thousands of ex-combatants into civil society. Some have opted for a collective reintegration process through the establishment of a housing cooperative “Ciudadelas de Paz” which is in the process of construction. The housing project involves 350 ex-combatants currently settled in so-called “temporary spaces for capacity building and reincorporation” (ETCR ) Tierra Grata and Pondores in northern Colombia. Since 2020, the ETH Zurich and the Universidad Nacional de Colombia have been supporting this initiative by establishing a School for Architecture for Reconciliation (with the participation of ENSAV). Bringing together ex-combatants, architecture students, housing scholars and representatives of victims to reflect on the role of housing cooperatives in peacebuilding and reconciliation, we identified challenges and opportunities of this pilot project, resulting in the development of a Technical Assistance Manual. This tool supports cooperatives self-building processes with ideas for design and construction of architectural details that can be locally produced and manufactured by the community. The proposed project will be the implementation of this Manual in the participatory design and construction of at least one communal building which will serve not only as a physical gathering space but also as a symbol of cooperative living.
Ciudadelas de Paz

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Impact
Participating in the establishment of the housing cooperative Ciudadelas de Paz is not only an opportunity to support peace-building through the reintegration of ex-combatants, but can also lead to the development of a prototype for alternative and sustainable forms of affordable housing in a country and region with severe housing deficits. The project understands housing as a human right and as a vehicle to build inclusive, peaceful, and liveable environments. Although the community has advanced in the design of settlement plans and construction of model housing units, communal spaces are yet to be defined. This is an opportunity not only to respond to a need for spaces where the community can come together, but through the participatory design process reflect upon the principles of collective living within this particular community. The ex-combatant community is in the process of transitioning from a life in combat and of constant moving, to settling down in a collective housing project. This requires a redefinition of social structures and collective living principles which we hope to address in the participatory design and construction of at least one communal building. Furthermore the construction of this project will be an opportunity to implement, test and adjust the Technical Assistance Manual that may serve other communities interested in developing a mutual aid cooperative housing project. 
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Core team
This project is jointly developed by the community of Ciudadelas de Paz,  ETH Centre for Research on Architecture, Society and the Built Environment (ETH CASE), the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNAL) and Urbamonde through a collaborative process that took place over the last 12 months. The team came together based on shared core values, long-term shared purposes, and complementarity of strengths. Ciudadelas de Paz is the pilot housing project of two grassroot cooperatives made up of 350 ex-combatants inspired by an exchange with the Uruguayan Federation of Mutual Aid Housing Cooperatives (FUCVAM). Although it has been advancing steadily in the procurement of land, development and approval of a settlement plan and construction of two model homes, it still requires substantive scientific and technical assistance to take off and scale up. ETH CASE is active in research, education and advisory services on socioeconomic, cultural and institutional aspects of housing and neighbourhood development, affordable housing, and housing cooperatives. National University of Colombia (UNAL) is the leading university and research institute on housing and urban issues in Colombia. UNAL’s Arts faculty is highly trained to carry out complex investigations in Colombia through its multiple locations and its extensive body of expert researchers. UrbaMonde is a Swiss NGO that supports vulnerable inhabitants who carry out community-led housing and neighbourhood improvement projects globally and since 2016 supports FUCVAM in the dissemination of the mutual aid housing model in Latin America. 
Working Group

image: Daniela Sanjines | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Image gallery
Location

image: Daniela Sanjines | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Temporary settlements where currently ex-combatants are living

image: Daniela Sanjines | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Temporary settlements where currently ex-combatants are living

image: Daniela Sanjines | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Temporary settlements where currently ex-combatants are living

image: Daniela Sanjines | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Productive unit for the production of compact earth blocks

image: Daniela Sanjines | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Production unit for metal welding

image: Daniela Sanjines | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Model house of Ciudadelas de Paz built by ex-combatants in Pondores in which they got to test the production units and identify challenges in the construction process.

image: Daniela Sanjines | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Model house of Ciudadelas de Paz built by ex-combatants in Tierra Grata in which they got to test the production units and identify challenges in the construction process.

image: Daniela Sanjines | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Fieldvisit to Tierra Grata and Pondores and setting up of the working group

image: Daniela Sanjines | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Students from ETH Zurich, Universidad Nacional de Colombia and Ecole nationale supérieure d'architecture de Versailles - ENSAV participated in the School of Architecture for Reconciliation where they built 1:1 architectural prototypes to be included in th

image: School of Architecture for Reconciliation | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Students from the School of Architecture for Reconciliation in dialogue with ex-combatants identified design and construction challenges and proposed ideas for the construction of architectural elements such as roofs, walls and windows. These were then te

image: School for Architecture for Reconciliation | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Students from the School of Architecture for Reconciliation in dialogue with ex-combatants identified design and construction challenges and proposed ideas for the construction of architectural elements such as roofs, walls and windows. These were then te

image: School of Architecture for Reconciliation | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Students from the School of Architecture for Reconciliation in dialogue with ex-combatants identified design and construction challenges and proposed ideas for the construction of architectural elements such as roofs, walls and windows. These were then te

image: School of Architecture for Reconciliation | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Ideas on the design of communal spaces between houses are also included in the Technical Assistance Manual

image: School of Architecture for Reconciliation | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Where are we now
The project started with a training provided by FUCVAM that inspired the project to pursue a self-help mutual aid approach. With support from the European Fund for Peace, it developed four production cooperatives: stabilized earth block production, carpentry, metal welding and transportation machinery, and capacity building workshops in sustainable building techniques. The community has thus pooled resources, procured land and with the support of local universities developed settlement and housing plans and built two model houses. The School of Architecture for Reconciliation together with ETH, UNAL and Urbamonde, has continued to support the development of this pilot project. 
An indication of our team’s capacity:
100% expertise already found
100% builders already found
Finance: € 39,300
By supporting this project, we can simultaneously achieve several goals: 1) Contribute to the peace process in Colombia (peace depends, among other things, on the reintegration of ex-combatants in a stable and dignified place of residence and living environment); 2) Internationally promote non-profit housing cooperatives; and 3) Promote participatory and sustainable building and housing approaches. More specifically, through the implementation of the Technical Assistance Manual the project hopes to strengthen the capacity of the community-led existing productive cooperatives established to support the self-construction of Ciudadelas de Paz.
  • PHASE 1 Participatory Design Workshops
3,300
  • PHASE 2 Technical design, studies and licensing
10,000
  • PHASE 3 Construction materials communal building
26,000
Stuff: Materials, Equipment & tools
Ciudadelas de Paz cleverly combines productive and housing cooepratives. Through the mutual aid approach, the community themselves will build their own project. However, the community can benefit from construction tools and building materials which will be specified during the second phase of the project.
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Location
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