6th Holcim Awards 2020/21

25 They improve air quality, act as dust retainers, regulate temperatures, and produce oxygen. Another function concerns flora and fauna, as wetlands provide habitat for countless endemic and migratory species. In a densely developed city like Bogotá, the social importance of such open spaces is also not to be underestimated. Wetlands serve as recreational areas and create territorial and cultural identity. Bogotá’s population growth has led to the development and destruction of most of these ecologically and culturally significant resources. It is estimated that of the 150,000 hectares of wetlands that existed in and around the city in 1940, only 1,500 hectares remain today – just one percent. They are spread over 15 different sites. The 152 hectare Jaboque wetland in the west of the city has been preserved to some extent. It is located near El Dorado airport and borders on the polluted Bogotá River. The vegetation of the ecosystem is impoverished. Parts of the wetland were illegally settled by displaced people. The tree population was reduced to a few acacia and eucalyptus trees. Since the 1980s at the latest, this wetland has also been used as a garbage dump, and sewage from surrounding districts has flowed into Jaboque. UNESCO’s Ramsar Convention lists the world’s most important wetlands, currently around 2,400 in 171 countries. Jaboque has been on the list since 2018. Incidentally, the name of the territory is derived from the Muisca language and means “land of plenty.” This wetland, which has been so badly damaged, is currently being transformed into a huge nature park of 5.5 kilometers in length. The Medellín-based architecture firm Connatural is in charge of the project. The firm was founded in 2011 by the architects Edgar Mazo and Sebastián Mejía. In all its projects, the firm strives to achieve a dialog between art, architecture, and landscape. Edgar Mazo is a graduate of the National University of Colombia. He is an intern professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and guest professor at Escola da Cidade in São Paulo. He gave lectures at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Arizona State University, and other universities. Sebastián Mejía is also a graduate of the National University of Colombia. He was a professor “People began to recognize the value of the wetlands” Sebastián Mejia