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El Equipo Mazzanti

Founded by Giancarlo Mazzanti, El Equipo Mazzanti is a Colombian architectural firm that blurs the lines between “social design” and a more traditional architectural practice. As Mazzanti said in a 2015 interview, “Any project is a social project; thinking that ‘architecture is social inclusion’ does not make much sense. What interests me is to understand the value of architecture and what it can produce in terms of behavior, relationships, and transformation.”

Through this statement, Mazzanti illustrates that there isn’t necessarily an ‘either/or’ mentality to the practice of architecture. All design can be social, if approached in the right spirit.

El Equipo Mazzanti rose to international prominence as part of the “Medellin Miracle,” a program and period of extensive urban renewal in Medellin, Colombia. Behind the Medellin miracle was a simple concept: put the best buildings in the worst neighborhoods, then tie the city together with culture and infrastructure. Led by Mayor Sergio Fajardo (2002-2007), the movement transformed the city away from a violent, segmented past into a model for contemporary urban development.

Medellin now hosts more than fifty urban and architectural renewal projects characterized by this spirit of rebirth, including one of Mazzanti’s most famous buildings: the Parque Biblioteca Espana. Situated on a hilltop in what was once the most violent and stigmatized part of the city, the library/park not only offers a gathering space and community resource, but is a symbol of pride for the neighborhood. The building can be used on a 24-hour basis and includes a theater, library, and learning workshops. This ‘multiplication of use’ principle is found throughout Mazzanti’s portfolio – the more functions one can draw out of a building, the more diverse its appeal. If all different segments of a community or city are using the building, it gives rise to social cohesion and cooperation.

We had an opportunity to speak with Giancarlo Mazzanti about his thoughts on transforming Medellin on our podcast, Social Design Insights. Listen to the episode below.

12 | Why All Architecture is Social


Social Design Insights would like to thank all those who make our weekly show possible: Baruch Zeichner, our Producer and Sound Engineer, Donna Read, for producing our video content, and Leah Freidenrich, Director of the Curry Stone Foundation. Our theme music for 2017 is "Sorry" by Comfort Fit. The break music is "Tarantella" by Newpoli from their album "Newpoli."