Ana López Ortego
Interviewer: Marcela Torres Molano
Language of interview: Spanish
Country of practice: Colombia and France
Profession: Architecture professor; member of the collective Arquitectura Expandida

Ana López is a Spanish architect, geographer, and part time professor at Universidad de los Andes, Colombia. She is a co-founder of Arquitectura Expandida, an architecture studio based in Bogotá, mainly working with community processes for the construction of physical and spatial prototypes in different countries, including Colombia and France. For over a decade, Lopéz has been interested in spatial justice, and the asymmetric power relations that are manifested in the territories. According to Lopez, small-scale projects are essential to generate large social changes, as they allow the development and exploration of designs and prototypes that can directly encourage “representative democracy”.

During our conversation, she tells us about different projects of Arquitectura Expandida in relation to the Colombian transitional justice processes. Among others, an urban community centre that used cultural strategies for social reconciliation; a rural community project, located in a site of multiple massacres, where the initial idea was to create a house of memory, but where wounds of the past did not allow this type of project to develop; and an urban community theater that used symbolic and aesthetic relationships as restorative tools for the resolution of territorial conflicts.

Lastly, Lopéz tells us about the multiple challenges that architecture projects have in transitional justice contexts like Colombia. She explains how architecture for this purpose should always be flexible, and allow communities to include their own memories and wounds of the war in spatial details, to generate collective healing. She also explains the importance of creating work networks between different organizations at the community level, to materialize the experiences of the participants and avoid dynamics of paternalism, hierarchical relationships, or bureaucratic spatial processes that do not respond to the needs of the communities from a local perspective.