Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.
Imagine overflying a city and seeing a huge butterfly painted on a whole neighborhood. You will not be seeing a mirage but rather one of the most ambitious projects of place making in Bogotá, Colombia. Located on the northern district of Usaquén, La Mariposa ("butterfly" in Spanish) is an area of informal settlements built on a hill. Historically neglected, it has been transformed through the current public administration's HabitArte program, which worked with residents to use the façades of buildings as one big canvas for Bogota’s fourth “macromural".
But Habitarte is much more than a beautification project. Residents of La Mariposa participated in several participatory workshops to decided on the design and color scheme of the final macromural, and each household painted their own house to help create the larger picture. This process brought people outside together, making the streets safer, and promoting stronger community relations.
At the moment, most community members in La Mariposa have to either walk its steep, unplanned street network or use an informal transit system of pickup trucks to get around. HabitARTE seeks to calm traffic and provide proper sidewalks and ladders to guarantee a safer and better connected pedestrian experience.
The coordinated actions of more than 26 different public entities have significantly changed the look and feel of the informal settlement of La Mariposa. Proper litter bins have installed, thousands of facades were renovated, and several murals now enliven this area.
Like most informal settlements in Latin America, La Mariposa has very few quality public spaces. To tackle this issue, the HabitARTE program also includes the creation of several parks in the area with football and basketball courts, among other activities. The painting of the macro-mural also became an activity in its own right, drawing everyone from small children to the elderly into public space.
The interventions of HabitARTE have led to a stronger sense of belonging for the community member of La Mariposa, which has been a historically marginalized in Bogotá. Furthermore, this project has helped change the perceptions of the place, even attracting some tourists to the area.
*Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.
When it comes to public space, neighborhood residents are too often removed from the stewardship of the places they share, with responsibility for management divided between government agencies with narrow objectives.