The Fábrica de Cultura: School of Arts and Popular Traditions complex in Barrio Abajo, a working-class neighborhood in Barranquilla, Colombia, is built into an abandoned Tobacco Factory, adding a new building and offering a public square for the Barrio.
Located at the Caribbean coast, the Fábrica provides a ‘maker space’ for 2800 young people to learn creative arts and popular traditions centered around the culture of the UNESCO World Heritage Carnival of Barranquilla. Operated by the Municipality, the facility offers arts and crafts education in - 11 disciplines music, dance, sculpture, dressmaking, painting poetry, theater, food production, digital film, and audio techniques - to local residents, regardless of their social or economic background.
The design builds on vernacular patterns, behaviors, and phenomena, utilizing local materials and processes and fabrication providing open building principles establishing a creative framework of stacked covered and uncovered spaces that can be modified and reprogrammed by users over time. Fábrica de Cultura offers a flexible building prototype that is being replicated in other parts of Barranquilla and Colombia as a whole using popular arts and culture as a strategy for inclusion throughout the region.
The Fábrica de Cultura is part of the larger Colombia Urban Transformation Program, a collaboration between the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), among others. The drawings and models for the project were shown at the 17th International Architecture Biennale in Venice 2021.