Colombia's economy has experienced positive growth over the past years despite serious armed conflict. The economy continues to advance because of austere government budgets and export-oriented growth strategy among others. New urban and developing strategies are being accomplished since the last decade. The Ministry of Culture and local district authorities have faced this situation; and intent to support more social and environmental catalytic projects in the Colombian cities, especially for less favoured communities.
A good example of this development is the Public Library in Villanueva. Villanueva, as many other towns across Colombia, have suffered lack of cultural facilities and tools, which has being an obstacle for inhabitants to reach higher educational level.
In 2006, the Colombian Architectural Association launched a national contest to propose the Local Library for Villanueva. The requirements were to propose as well as indoor functional spaces such as reading rooms, game rooms, auditorium and office staff; but also a relevant outside space for social-community interaction.
The main conceptual idea was to reach maximum efficiency for an implemented design; considering local materials, sustainable construction process and enrolment of the community.
Colombia suffers from time to time by armed conflicts, which affects directly or indirectly all inhabitants. Villanueva is located in the middle of a local war between armed groups, where civilians have suffered the consequences in the last years. The Public Library aim is to act as a mediator in this post-conflict process; it becomes an image of a healing renewal.
Skilled labour came mostly from the area; however some of them did not have the technical skills for construction, therefore some workshops were organized with the aim to train people. Some people who joined were even former guerrilleros of the FARC ( Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia). This gave as a result re-integration and re-inventing the meaning of social work in the areas. More people kept coming to offer their help; it was without doubt a quilt strategy for social inclusion.
The Public Library was completed in May of 2007, becoming a great example of a community catalyst for Villanueva. Hopefully it inspires to further social-urban enhancement project with public impact, intelligent promotion of local materials and architectonic quality.