Mid-sized cities in Latin America are growing at unprecedented rates. The next decade will be decisive in terms of demographic and economic growth, creating a time window to respond to unprecedented demands on resources, such as land, water and energy.
Are these boomtowns doomed to follow the fate of megacities or will they successfully avoid the pitfalls of rapid urban development?
This program is part of a three-year ambitious collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank & Findeter’s Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative and the Swiss Ministry for Economic Cooperation (SECO). It will influence decision makers and engage with real issues.
ETH is teaming up with the leading Universidad del Norte in Colombia to focus on Barranquilla, a rapidly growing city of 1.2 million inhabitants on the Atlantic coast of Colombia. Following a period of decline, vast sums of foreign investment are now flowing into this port city, with the potential to reverse current inequalities and spark more sustainable development.
This summer school will function as an inter-disciplinary think-tank, exploring the requisites for sustainable urban development in Barranquilla through the lens of architecture, engineering, and environmental sciences. You will be challenged to work in an intensive cross-cultural setting and develop solutions in a complex, real-life context with local practitioners and stakeholders. The summer school will provide alternative urban scenarios that over come real-life obstacles.


In a team, you will produce alternative urban scenarios for one of the largest markets in the Caribbean – El Mercado Central. You will contribute your expertise and unpack the realities of sustainable development in a tropical climate. How can knowledge from the ETH be combined with leading Colombian research and translated to a Latin American context? Through debate, controversy and collaboration it is expected you produce scenarios that integrate your different disciplines and question the preconceptions of sustainable urban development.


This immersive summer school will be structured in three interlocking modules:
In the first module you will investigate el Mercado Central and gain a strong understanding of the social, environmental and built context. You will employ and combine your varied disciplinary methodologies to gain insight into the sustainability challenges facing the city and the future of this market.
In the second module, you will develop a series of scenarios for the Market Barranquilla, proposing alternatives for its sustainable future. You will build on research from the first module, and explore the potential of your ideas with local stakeholders and professionals from your field. You will document these scenarios using creative and varied representational methods.
In the final module you will pitch your scenarios to decision makers. During this high-level event you will measure their preferences, debate the associated trade-offs, and provide a series of orientations for those planning the future of Barranquilla.

Skills acquired

You will receive full support on-site from Universidad del Norte and ETH tutors from your discipline. In developing the scenarios you will work side by side with young professionals with a grounded knowledge of the field, and be joined by a wide variety of local stakeholders.
The program will combine site visits, expert lectures and workshops to allow you to develop the following skills:

  • The capacity to work to address urban challenges in an inter-disciplinary team
  • Apply Scenario Analysis technique to structure and integrate knowledge from various fields
  • Cross cultural understanding and skills in an international collaboration
  • Mechanisms to collaborate and communicate with practitioners and stakeholders
  • Understanding of integrated and sustainable urban development
  • Ability to use stakeholder participation to solve real world problems

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