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Integral Urban Development Project

In the 1990s Medellín was one of Latin America’s most dangerous cities (Vulliamy, 2013).The situation spurred the City of Medellín, together with a range of stakeholders including politicians, NGOs, academics, local community groups and international organizations, to plan and implement selective urban interventions to improve the lives of inhabitants in the northeast area of the city. The Integral Urban Project (Proyectos Urbanos Integrales, PUI) initiative emerged in response to tackle deep rooted social and economic challenges, including marginalization, poverty, violence and drug trafficking. The Integral Urban Project identified strategic areas of the non-consolidated communes of the city and transformed them through an “urban acupuncture” approach, improving both social and physical infrastructure. These interventions reduced social segregation and violence while reintegrating the communes with the rest of the city. The areas of action included strengthening community participation, as well as the improvement of public spaces and housing conditions, community services and facilities, along with provisions for enhanced environmental sustainability. Ultimately, the institutional Nexus created through the scalar integration of community working groups, municipal and national agencies, with academic institutions and international development agencies, was a key factor behind the PUI’s success.