In Medellín (Colombia), the Comprehensive Urban Project increases social inclusion through the regeneration of the city

The Comprehensive Urban Project in the North-Eastern Zone of Medellín began in 2004, shortly after the completion of the works on the Metrocable, a major investment in public mobility by the government of Medellín, which began to rebuild the relationship between Communes 1 and 2 (which occupied the lowest positions in the Human Development Index), and were mostly the result of informal settlements, with serious shortcomings in facilities and high levels of social exclusion.

The process began with the regeneration of the Medellín Urban Development Corporation (EDU), which led to the creation of inter-agency coordinating bodies that were essential for the development of the process (a key role was played by the mayor's office).


  1. Diagnosis phase: one of the first tasks that accompany the socio-territorial diagnosis in the area is the rebuilding of trust in the public administrations among the people in the area (which has been damaged by years of neglect and broken promises).
  2. Participatory phase: at the end of this diagnosis phase, and after the improvement of relations with the communities, a specifically participatory phase of the process was launched, which began with the establishment of the Committees (a key body in the participatory process).

Participation in the process took place in different phases:

  • First, there was the phase involving diagnosis and identification of key areas by means of visits undertaken with the technical teams.
  • This phase was followed by the design of projects in Imagination Workshops.
  • Once they had been designed, the teams of architects discussed the projects (conducted in a format that is understandable by the population) with the communities, in an exercise of transparency in which all the factors that determine the feasibility of the project were discussed. This transparency was maintained when awarding the work to the companies responsible for construction.
  • Once the work began, monitoring committees were created and companies were obliged to employ people in from the community (based on criteria defined by the local Committees).
  • After the works had been completed, celebratory inauguration activities took place to help with their appropriation and use by the population.


The results of this process do not only include improved administrative coordination and the promotion of citizens' participation. Numerous collective facilities and public spaces have also been built, educational and health facilities have been improved, and environmentally degraded areas and many homes (many of which had had to be legalized) have been rehabilitated.

This process is being repeated in four other areas in Medellín, and is planned to be rolled out in a further two areas. This shows the high degree of replicability of a comprehensive intervention methodology that faced significant obstacles such as the lack of urban planning, social and environmental degradation of the area, corruption and the lack of confidence in the government structure, as well as numerous episodes of violence. 

For more information, please consult the full case study: See the whole case study

For more information: Inclusive Cities Observatory