Bogotá, Colombia, 2004 / ongoing

Photo courtesy of Secretaría Distrital del Hábitat

HabitARTE’ is an urban art-based upgrading programme administered by the Housing Department of the City of Bogotá. It seeks to involve citizens in the improvement of the façades of buildings and public spaces located in informal settlements, many of which host significant numbers of internally displaced people.

City officials and partner institutions provide guidance to the communities, leading them towards self-management. Local residents are provided with training in different arts and crafts and decide together which artworks to display and which colours to use. The interventions are accompanied by participatory workshops with children, youths and the elderly to define the ways in which neighbourhoods will be transformed. Children paint their schools and other public spaces, fostering a sense of ownership and pride. Moreover, these activities become an opportunity to organise playful celebrations.

‘HabitARTE’ has already upgraded around 95,000 façades in 83 neighbourhoods. It promotes participatory processes, strengthening community cohesion and social inclusion. The initiative has also increased citizens’ confidence in the public administration. It uses interventions in public spaces and façades to reach vulnerable households and then assists them with social support that strengthens livelihoods, ultimately benefiting children. By bringing together children, youths and the elderly in transforming the aesthetics of their communities, the project generates convivial relationships that improve community cohesion, making neighbourhoods safer for children.

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