#cityplanningBU Student Proposes Strategic Plan of Urban Development for Valledupar, Colombia

Valledupar, Colombia
Graphic credit: Ar. Rubén D. Cerón Guevara. The Strategic Plan of Urban Development for Valledupar, Colombia, proposes expanding the City eastward across the Guatapurí River, rezoning and redeveloping the land along the river with the goal of creating a more sustainable, productive and efficient city.

The city of Valledupar, in the department (state) of Cesar, Colombia, has been suffering from an accelerated rate of growth. Valledupar was included among a group of 200 cities with the fastest growth in Latin America by the New York University Urban Expansion Program, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN Habitat) and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Also, a large percent of Valledupar’s population is low-income and a high percent of Valledupar’s high school graduates leave the City in order to find jobs and attend university’s in other cities in Colombia. Therefore, the City needs to make preparations for the coming expansion while it improves the quality of life for its inhabitants in order to keep residents living and working there. Valledupar’s economy is predominantly based on agriculture and mining, and the City’s downtown is located by the Rio Guatapurí (Guatapurí River), an important natural resource in the area. The denser residential areas of the City live on the periphery, far from the downtown.

Rubén Cerón, MUA '18
Ar. Rubén D. Cerón Guevara, MUA ’18 , is a candidate for the Master of Urban Affairs and a graduate assistant for the City Planning and Urban Affairs Program.

In 2015, a new Spatial Organization Plan (POT in Spanish) was apporved, which would strengthen and boost the expansion of Valledupar on its west side. However, the POT pushes the inhabitants on the City’s periphery further out, creating greater social and economic disparities among residents. It also under utilizes greater environmental area along the Guatapurí River, which is located on the eastern boarder of Valledupar, by not creating an area of importance and promoting the growth of slums already located along the River. Ar. Rubén D. Cerón Guevara, MUA ’18, approached the government to draw up a new proposal that would take advantage of the City’s resources and its current condition to build a more sustainable city. With assistance from Dr. Madhu C. Dutta-Koehler, Director of the City Planning and Urban Affairs Program and Associate Professor of the Practice, Cerón and his team came up with an economic, social and environmental analysis of the City, which lead to an idea called Valledupar Sostenible. Vallepudar Sostenible is a 100-year vision for the City with the goal of integrating all the services and resources the City has in order to create a more sustainable, productive and efficient city. Within that vision, Valledupar Inteligente was developed, a 25-year proposal that addresses the current state of the City and works to move the City in direction envisioned by Valledupar Sostenible. Valledupar Inteligente’s goal is to connect city services through technology, and the proposal analyzes and simulates how Valledupar would be if the area of expansion is developed on the east side of the City, and if the River becomes a vital area that structures mobility, environment, economics and zoning.

The proposal has three project phases. The first project will rezone and redevelop land along both sides of the Rio Guatapurí, which is predominantly slums and agriculture lands, and develop a green corridor with a

Photo credit: Ar. Rubén D. Cerón Guevara. Downtown Valledupar, historic area, and future expansion land.

light rail system. The second project will expand the City on the east side of the River where a financial, governmental and administrative district will be developed. This will preserve a historical part of the City that is currently unable to expand. The expansion across the River will be developed in the concept of rings, similar to the model of the Garden City. The rings will continue to expand as they reach their capacity. This allows the population growth to be controlled. Also, since the light rail system will be running north and south along the River, there is a plan to reorganize SIVA so it travels along the rings and integrates into the rail system. The third project is the development of sustainable energy farms. The goal is to take the expansion land that has already been defined on the west side of the City and consolidate it for industry because they will be located closer to several industries already existing and other cities in the region. Currently, Valledupar does not have a reliable power service and this proposal requires a constant flow of power. There is also a need to contain the City, and the sustainable energy farms will act as a boundary to keep the City from continuing to expand westward.

Last semester, Cerón and his team performed a diagnostics of the City’s conditions and what could be done to solve its current issues. This semester, the proposal is being shaped in preparation to be presented to governmental entities of Valledupar. This project is also being used as a case study in the MET UA 515 History, Theory and Planning Practice Fall 2017 course as a strategy to involve different perspectives on the project.

By Ar. Rubén D. Cerón Guevara, MUA ’18, and Andrea Ciminelli