If we where in the center west part of Bogotá, we would only need to stand up and look in the opposite direction from the mountain in order to see one of the greatest cement, brick and dipstick monuments.
Bogotá is a “monster”. It is a city that grows in such a fast and hectic manner it doesn’t let you catch up. There is green here, but not enough. It is a metropolis.
The Colombian capital
Colombia’s capital has 256 million squared meters built– this is equivalent to more than 2.300.000 constructions- and you have to include the fact that Bogotá is home to 200 people per hectare.
Although, there are areas where at least 568 habitants live in the same space (referring to population in square meters). This means Bogotá has more population per square meter than New York -530- and Mexico D.F. – 490-, amongst other capitals in the eastern hemisphere.
With the exception of the Simon Bolivar Metropolitan Park, the Country Club of Bogotá, Jardinez de Paz Cemetery, Los Lagartos Club, Universidad Nacional (National University), El Salitre and El Tunal Parks, the 1era de Mayo Avenue, Timiza, Bavaria and the San Carlos Hospital, there are actually very few “green spots” that are actually seen in the city and many of them are private clubs, which few people can afford.
An article published by El Tiempo emphasises the fact that the city has one of the smallest amounts of green areas per resident; while the minimum required by the WHO are 10 squared meters, Bogotá only reaches 4,3.
In other words, Bogotá has plenty of cement, a lot of people and not enough green areas to balance it out. This situation affects another reality. There are very few places to share and spend leisure hours while enjoying nature. There are few public places that are accessible to all, inclusive and safe. It seems as if places to bring us together are continuously diminishing.
New green spots
Even though this is a problem and a great urban planning challenge, what has caught my attention is discovering that in order to revert the circumstances that influence their lack of appropriate life standards people have taken matters into their own hands.
They have developed strategies to transform, with lots of creativity, their surroundings. A few years ago, we picked on a phenomenon surrounding vegetables, fruits, and other plants cultivated in home gardens.
As this started to develop people started noticing all of the things they could accomplish with indoor gardening and all of the added benefit towards organic residual management.
At the moment, we can state that there is an important urban gardening boom all around the city, most of them are downtown. This is the case of Mrs. Villamil’s garden located between calle 28 and carrera 7. This is specifically situated in Belen (neighbourhood), it is one of many examples, there are a great amount of spaces that have a garden of their own and many others are starting to create one.
The Cinema garden
There is more to the story. It is a tireless role of creating inclusive spaces, magical places in which people form downtown Bogotá may express their ideas, share environments and moments.
They want to learn about earth and access the possibility of letting their imagination run free trough Film, in this neighborhood such a place is being created.
The idea is to experiment with the fusion of 2 human dimensions. Dimensions such as the ancestral and basic content of agriculture and the sophistication of audiovisual art are reproducing a “Pinocchio” illusion of sorts. The fulfilment of giving a Cinema life with in an urban garden.
This Cinema garden is combining efforts from all the people and collectives that have built home gardens. All of them, want to create more green spots in Bogota’s Map, more patches that grant access to the community, that are built for the people and that provide knowledge to children and teens filled with questions and seeking to learn about what the future holds.
This space which is not at all a fabled place, is located in a particular street in Belen. It is being built by an architectural collective -Habitat Sin Fronteras-, cultural promotion collectives in the neighbourhood, such as Casa B and Casa Bakatá, designers, urban agricultural advisers –Planta Baja-. The Belen community and the active participation of the neighborhood children. Their only intention is to see what happens when they are the ones that make the change happen.
The Social Fabric
People arrive to the Cinema garden in order to let their imagination fly away, to learn how to make compost, very rich in nutrients soil amendment. They want to cultivate and harvest plants. There is also a time and place to watch movies, documentaries. Here, people simply choose what and when they want to see it.
Workshops are being imparted, activity conducted by the Cinema gardens, but also by the different collectives that are part of this project.
In actuality, this is a place to promote integration and community participation. It is an example that working as a team towards a common goal is possible, even if it might seem far fetched. It is, without a doubt, one more effort to promote the social strengthening that finally exists and to have more green spots in the urban map.