Owing to the interest of local government in the revitalization of slum areas in major Colombian cities, many of Mazzanti’s commissions center on the capacity of architecture to produce social transformation. The architect emerged to international fame when he built España Library on the hills above Medellín, in an area that was previously a notorious no-go zone for anyone other than locals. Built as one of ten government-sponsored park/libraries to be inserted in the city’s most underserved areas, the building’s three faceted volumes are set on a promontory just above a steep slope of dense slum housing. Covered in dark tile, the library and its community gathering spaces have come to serve as beacons and symbols of collective pride for the local neighborhood. The facility, combined with a new cable car connecting the barrio to Medellín’s public transit system, makes manifest the ability of design to articulate political will in new urban realities.
Gallery label from 9 + 1 Ways of Being Political: 50 Years of Political Stances in Architecture and Urban Design, September 12, 2012–March 25, 2013.