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La Concordia: Amphitheatre by Colab-19

Colab-19 uses scaffolding to create multipurpose outdoor venue for pandemic-struck Bogotá

Architecture collective Colab-19 has built a multi-storey open-air theatre out of scaffolding to help Bogotá's businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

Called La Concordia: Amphitheatre, the structure can be used to host everything from outdoor dining to film screenings and socially distanced theatre in the Colombian capital.

La Concordia: Amphitheatre by Colab-19
The outdoor venue can be used for a variety of events

Arranged over three levels, the U-shaped structure faces Galaría Santa Fe in the La Concordia district, creating a semi-enclosed courtyard space in the middle.

Individual platforms on the lower levels can be used for people dining at a safe distance apart, while the topmost level can be used as a viewpoint.

Exterior view of La Concordia: Amphitheatre by Colab-19
The temporary structure abuts an art gallery

Colab-19, which describes itself as a laboratory for architecture, was founded to mobilise designers to respond to the problems caused by Covid-19.

"Bogotá is a city that has been gravely affected by the pandemic," said Colab-19 co-founders German Bahamon and Alejandro Saldarriaga.

"Not only has the city had one of the longest forced quarantines since the beginning of the pandemic, but it is a city where the vast majority of the population cannot work from home," they told Dezeen.

"This has led to an internal socio-economic crisis where several sectors have been gravely damnified. As an example, 40 per cent of the city's restaurants have been forced to shut down leaving thousands unemployed."

Courtyard of La Concordia: Amphitheatre by Colab-19
A courtyard in the centre is surrounded by platforms

La Concordia: Amphitheatre offers a way for businesses to stay open and creatives to perform to an audience safely during the pandemic.

It's also a chance for designers to show people what good design is capable of, say its designers.

"This is an unusual moment in recent history where public and private entities are desperately searching for fresh solutions to reactivate the economy," added Bahamon and Saldarriaga.

"Bogotá has traditionally been a somewhere where design is not as valued as it is in other places of the world," they added. "The 2020 pandemic has proved to our city the positive value that architects and designers bring to society."

Levels La Concordia: Amphitheatre by Colab-19
Stepped levels form individual outdoor dining booths

Colab-19 used scaffolding because it is fast, low cost and easily accessible as a construction material.

"Designing in the context of a socio-economic crisis asked us to think outside of traditional building materials," said Bahamon and Saldarriaga.

"The design had to be built with materials that were already part of our day-to-day routines, which could be recycled or reused into architecture to save costs," they added.

"This led us to investigate construction infrastructure as inhabitable architecture. We decided that scaffolding was the most appropriate construction system due to its modularity, accessibility, and 'outdoor feel'."

Viewpont of La Concordia: Amphitheatre by Colab-19
The top floor can be used as a viewpoint

Sheets of yute – a textile made from natural fibres traditionally used to make sacks for coffee and potatoes in Colombia – are suspended from the scaffolding to divide up the dining booths.

"We were not convinced that Bogotá citizens would think of dining in a scaffolding as a memorable experience due to the material's 'industrial' and 'cold' qualities," explained the designers. "As such, we were looking for materials that could soften up the interior of the proposal."

La Concordia: Amphitheatre by Colab-19
The outdoor space facilitates safer events during the pandemic

All of the materials chosen for La Concordia: Amphitheatre can be taken apart and used for other projects after it served its purpose.

Colab-19, however, hopes it could be kept in place long after the pandemic is over, and that interventions such as this will permanently change public opinion. It's a process they have termed "tactical architecture".

"The idea is to offer spaces for citizens and cities to improve the way how we will live in the future post-pandemic," they explained.

"With our interventions, we aim to give to the cities the opportunity to prepare for the booming of public space and to adapt to the new reality."

Close up of La Concordia: Amphitheatre by Colab-19
Scaffolding and yute are cheap and accessible materials

Around the world architects have responded to the pandemic, creating outdoor solutions from socially distanced benches in Amsterdam to permeant outdoor dining areas in New York.

While coronavirus has taken so much away, it also created the space for Bahamon and Saldarriaga to set up Colab-19 last year, despite living in London and Bogotá respectively.

"Before the pandemic, we never thought we could start our own firm being physically apart from each other," they said. "The pandemic made us realize all we need is an internet connection to get our firm off the ground."

Photography is by Alberto Roa.

Project credits:

Design collaborators: Colab-19, Taller Architects, SCA
Collaborators: Henry Gualdron, Layher Scaffolding, Alcaldía de Bogotá, Secretaría de Desarrollo Bogotá, IPES Bogotá

More images and plans

Plan for La Concordia: Amphitheatre