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Author, German Bahamon

Jun 24th, 2020

On Friday May 22 the S.C.A. (Colombian Society of Architects) together with CIPSCA (Center of Innovation and Productivity of the S.C.A.) with the support of several entities such as Emprende, A.C.F.A (Colombian Association of Architectural Schools), National Professional Council of Architecture, the SENA with Tecnoparque Nodo Bucaramanga and the Chamber of Commerce of Bogotá launched the "challenge COVID-19 architecture for life", a competition focused on economic recovery so that architects and designers could think about changes that will reduce the chances of infection. Making a strong invitation for ideas with a creative and innovative adaptation capacity, which can be applied to existing places based on the new reality of life, always taking into account the technical, economic, and cultural conditions of the Colombian environment.


Among the multiple sectors that opened the competition, such as administrative and office buildings, factories and workshops, shopping centers and small businesses, health institutions, public space, housing, educational institutions and marketplaces, this last one was the one that together with my colleague the architect Julián Quiroz chose to participate, taking the great surprise of being selected as the winning proposal together with the other 5 corresponding proposals in the different sectors.


On June 7th the invitation closed with one hundred and eighty (180) teams from all over the country, and our proposal was the only one from the United States, where forty (40) proposals were evaluated by a qualified jury, choosing six (6) ideas as the most outstanding, to be presented in a public webinar that took place on June 17th at 3 pm Colombia time.


Before going into the explanation of our idea, I would like to thank in advance the entities mentioned, including the S.C.A. and the participants who were outstanding.



It is evident to realize how 8 million cases of COVID-19 changed all of our lives, transformed the world and still continues to do so. But this is not something new, the mankind was already generating an impact and changing our earth globe, I am talking about the environmental impact and climate change. Thus, this is the moment in history where we are facing two global problems, the dissemination and lack of control of the coronavirus and global warming, which we believe must be faced with local solutions, making each being a main and very important entity for the solution of the problem. 


To put it in context and to understand why we had the idea of "market places", we tried to understand the problem from the root. On June 13, the BBC showed how in Pekin, China, the population was once again filled with fear because of a second wave of contagion that started in a market, thus generating again the closure of schools and more services to protect the population. And just a few days before, on June 4, in Bogota, the same threat was alerted, also from a market, in this case "Corabastos" but without the same general effect, because our schools were already closed, but the closure of two warehouses in order to protect the citizens generated strong riots and the problems came to light, forcing the same salesmen of the center to go out to the streets to sell their products.


This is an example of the same problem, both in markets, but in two different contexts, with two different responses. That's why we decided together that the markets are the focus of the problem, if Bogotá doesn't solve the problem in Corabastos, it doesn't solve the root problem, and we are going to continue having problems on a long-term basis. 


But what is the current situation of Corabastos?


We analyzed the dissemination of the virus from a macro to micro vision where Bogotá appears as the epicenter of national infection, and Corabastos is the major focus with more than 3,000 cases in the most affected area of the city, which is Kenedy locality, with 5,244 cases.


Corabastos is the largest supply center in the country (46 Hectares) that supplies fresh food coming daily from the countryside to the population of Bogota, performing an extremely important role, even more so now, because it is a factor linked to public health, where food is a fundamental principle to maintain a high immune system, sufficient to fight a future viral infection, either coronavirus or a simple influenza. 


After all, disorganization, informality, afloat waste, and the centralized model mixed with the need for survival together are part of the center of what we know today as Corabastos, therefore it is a great national threat to both health and the environment.

Photography of Corabastos and the wetland "La Vaca". Ph. by Andres Romero.

Photography of Corabastos. Ph. from magazine Kien y Ke

What to do?

Within our capacities as architects and urban designers we were sure at this time that it was in the markets that we should focus on, but we began to think about the question: what to do? how can we protect the farmer, the transporter, the seller and the customer, thus initiating our first idea, which was the main one.




The decentralization of Corabastos became our "alma mater". Without decentralization there is no idea, without decentralization there is no project. And to be able to carry it out we consider necessary the creation of a system that makes use of the road infrastructure, with four objectives and/or four principles.


  1. Reduce the agglomeration in the center.

  2. Cover most of the city with the "Corabasto express" supply module to provide fresh food at a lower cost, with the intention of maintaining a high immune system.

  3. Reduce the carbon footprint related to food transport.

  4. Use technology to strengthen the relationship between the farmer and the consumer.

Reduce the agglomeration in the center. 

More than 4 million cars go to the center every year, this is the main problem, the difficult control of the agglomerations opens very few opportunities to guarantee a social distancing, that is why it is urgent the need to reduce this concentration through the decentralization, to look for ways to reduce the number of necessary entries in the Center.

Propose a "Corabasto Express"


We seek to cover most of the city with a supply module to provide fresh fruits and vegetables at a lower cost in order to maintain a high immune system. At the same time, we want it to be easy to build, and to be made of recycled materials. For example, the reuse of pallets. Of course, the consideration of the protocol and biosafety areas, in the same way this urban element will be complemented with the definition of the limits of loading and unloading with paint on the roads.

the reuse of wood pallets.

Organic waste management.

Definition of the limits of loading and unloading with paint on the roads.

Corabasto express module.

Reduce the carbon footprint related to food transport.


At this point, our goal is to reduce the amount of travel related to transporting fresh food to reduce the emission of gases into the environment. We will rely on the existing road network to organize the flow of food arriving in the city. In other words, the products that arrive from the north, supply this sector becoming a unidirectional system. This system will be complemented by the progressive updating of the transport to an electric transport, which will in turn supply several points, some of them wholesale and others retail, with the objective of reducing intermediaries. Less contact with the product will keep a cleaner product.


Transportation-related to fruits and Vegetables

within Urban areas

Transportation-related to fruits and Vegetables

outside of Urban areas

Small Hub - Corabasto Express -

Large Hub - Corabasto Express -

Concept of new food transport in Bogota



For us technology is extremely important, we see it as the vision of tomorrow and the opportunity to strengthen the idea towards an even more interdisciplinary trend. 


The application that we propose has two specific objectives, one to formalize the trade and the service based as a "blockchain", this will decrease the probability of corrupting the system, generating satisfaction and security to the agents involved in it. On the other hand, strengthening the relationship between the farmer and the consumer is extremely important for us, the idea is to take advantage of social networks and a transparent system to provide the opportunity to connect users with each other. 


With this application I as a user can see who sowed my product, who picked it up, what time it was delivered and payment confirmations. 

A mockup that simulates how the app could work.

Vision to an ecological transformation for Corabastos. 


Following these four objectives we have a great macro vision for a transformation in the Corabastos center, this intervention is divided into three actions.


The implementation of green roofs on existing structures, in order to collect rainwater, which can be channeled and treated in a new treatment plant within the same center. 

As a second point, we want to invite entities such as SENA for the incorporation of an educational building that provides training in urban agriculture, because we consider that this is the great turn that agriculture will take in the next few years and it should start to be implemented more strongly as a new option for education and work in our country.


Finally, the consent towards the value of the organic residues must be recognized, for this reason we propose the creation of a handling plant and treatment of organic waste for the generation of electrical energy, it is an opportunity to give a step towards the renewable energies in well-being of the mankind and the environment. 

Educational Institution for Urban Agriculture

Water harvesting on top of existing structures with green roofs

Anaerobic digester

Urban Agriculture Practices


Sketch of the vision of a new supply system that will save lives in Bogota

Implementation strategies.


In order to execute this idea, we based ourselves on Decree 552 of 2018, which refers to the economic use of public space, where the first step will be to obtain a use permit that will be granted by the DADEP (Administrative Defense of Public Space), under the activity of "temporary markets". Its implementation would be in the public space built, in the network of platforms and pedestrian streets, which allows the activity of temporary market. Thus, the institution that administers and regulates the unit would be the IPES (Institute for the Social Economy), which seeks to organize the informal activities that take place in public space.


This idea would be applied under temporary use that would comply with all specifications, impact reduction, urban elements and all corresponding permits. 


S.O.S. Call


We are facing a situation that urges solutions, time threatens and does not wait, success is in our ability to adjust, and we consider the market sector a priority to ensure the security of the mankind, within our proposal we make an S.O.S. call to "COVIDIZE" a management tool in Corabastos. 


We created the word "COVIDIZE" not in order to disseminate the COVID, but we understand it as an expediter, an accelerator, and from a more positive perspective, we call for speeding up processes in order to seek more immediate solutions.


This is how we see our idea as a WIN-WIN that opens the doors so that a city like Bogota, brightens up the world as a global model that contributes to the mankind.

Author, German Bahamon

Jun 24th, 2020