Interviewer: Greg Labrosse
Language of interview: Spanish
Country of practice: Colombia
Profession: Designer and architect. Undergraduate studies in architecture, master’s degree in media, architecture and design. Currently completing a second master’s degree in advanced design.
Carlos Medellín is a Colombian architect and designer. His interests focus on spaces for restorative justice, education, and diversity. He is currently pursuing his second master’s degree in design at the California College of Art, and he is a member of Horizontal, an architecture studio in Bogotá. As a Colombian citizen, and after realizing that violence and fear of impunity have prevailed for decades in the country, he became interested in the relation between the internal strife, restorative justice architecture, and participatory processes with youth.
During our conversation, Medellín describes “La Casita”, a space for juvenile restorative practices located in a central neighborhood of Bogotá that has welcomed more than 250 young people from all over the country. “La Casita” is the result of a multidisciplinary initiative with government institutions, design studios, artists, psychologists, legal professionals and adolescents, participating in restorative justice processes. Medellín describes the main objective of this project as the creation of a space for dialogue and reparation, and pedagogies of restoration and reintegration based on Indigenous knowledge. He further explains “La Casita” could become a project to be replicated in different contexts, as long as the participation of people from the local context is ensured during the design stage.
In addition, Medellín tells us about the difficulties faced by projects of restorative and transitional justice architecture, which include the lack of commitment of architecture professionals, the management of arduous bureaucratic processes, and the constant budget limitations. He explains that in order to carry out projects of this type of architecture, it is vital to foster collaboration with government entities, to include the young participants in the design process (both survivors and those who have committed the offense), and to find a balance between the spatial components and the objectives of restoration.