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Gabriel Garcia Marquez Elemenatry School

AGENdA agencia de arquitectura & JPR Architects

Yumbo, Colombia

February 2018


Camilo Restrepo Ochoa, Jose Paul Restrepo


Paulina Vargas, Julian Salazar, Bernardo Marin, Ebingel, LAT


Fundación Grupo Argos


AGENdA agencia de arquitectura


The project is organized as a simple square, divided in 9 squares and distributed in to two floor plans. The central square is a patio. The perimeter on the first floor is a corridor. The main idea behind this intentions is to provide a ground floor open to the public even thought the school is not operating, so it can become a community center. On the first floor the corridor is a street for students to meet. Th program on the ground floor is a small center for infants, a kinder garden, a community managed restaurant for the school, the library and bathroom services. Locating all the program that can become public in an easier way, we allowed the first floor to have all the classrooms and a professors office.
The perimeter is built in clouded concrete leaving a small gap that allows the view to be contemplated, while at the same time protecting the interior from the hard sun light, and the air flows freely through the gap, and by having cross ventilation there is no need of mechanical systems for climatization. Its materiality is conceived for low maintenance, therefore concrete, and concrete bricks are the systems to define the spaces. All the hydraulic, lighting, and energy systems are exposed with no ceiling or shafts, allowing a simple way of keeping it running without damaging its materiality and finishes.


The site is a complicated place socially speaking. Big rates of school desertion, violence, high pregnancy among young women, and high rates of unemployment.
On the geographical and climatical side, is extreme dry and warm, an average of 30C all year round.

The neighborhood has been built illegally over the last 30 years, with no architectonical or institutional reference. The lack of public space and community services provided by the government is common on the area, forcing the inhabitants to move constantly for social services or education. On the other hand, being at the top of the hill, it has another atmosphere in relationship to the site and its relationships. Also fresh air coming from the mountain in the afternoon and in the morning, allows the site to have a microclimate for a part of the day.
The site is surrounded on the North and South side by illegal houses, actually occupying part of the site. On the West side a small vacant lot to become a park and which used to be occupied by the previous construction. On the East side an unpaved street. Being the only side of the building with a direct urban presence to the street.


The building performance is flexible and adaptable, the ground floor plan being open and in relationship to the patio provides an extra space for the community to gather or the students to play. The relationship with the restaurant allows the space to be used as a small auditorium for plays or gatherings. At the same time the relationship of the ground floor rooms around the courtyard gives the possibility to integrate multiple spaces around a flexible empty space, easy to program according to the necessities of the community.
The school is the first and only public school in colombia with LEED certification. This is a great accomplishment for public infrastructure, demonstrating that simple but effective elements of architecture can provide a low maintenance and low energy and resources consumption.
The building in the overall relationship with its surroundings became a center for t he community, people meet and gather in its installations and due to the appropriation of the inhabitants it has become a neutral area, any from the social conflicts. With the new school student desertion reduced drastically, and even students who left have returned knowing and understanding that the new infrastructure not only gives shelter and education, but also hope and opportunities.

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