Please login first
Previous Article in event
The backside of the city. Marginality and waste landscapes in the Tunjuelo watershed.
1  The University of Sheffield


The Tunjuelo River is one of the most important tributaries of the Bogota River, it is a highly populated territory on which different realities converge. Approximately three million people inhabits the Tunjuelo watershed. The watershed was urbanized in less than 100 years, mostly by informal settlers that occupied areas with landslide risk and progressively encroached the floodplain.

The modernization of Bogotá after 1930s displaced industry to the outskirts of the city and demanded a constant supply of building materials. Since then the extraction of clay and gravels focused on the Tunjuelo River due to its geological configuration. This drastically changed the course of the river and its ecology. Small industries for tannery and other activities also found a place in the Tunjuelo River, in the edge between the countryside and the city.

The river is one of the main elements of the city’s ecological structure. However, the sewerage system is the poorest in the city. The river receives wastewater from most of the surrounding residential areas, chemical pollution from small industries and discharged pollutants from the main city’s landfill. In addition, communities settled in the watershed suffer from lack of accessibility to public spaces while the area defined as ecological corridor is a narrow strip.

Until recently, Bogota’s city planning was disassociated from watershed planning. Mining, industrial activities, landfills, informal settlements, expansion areas, rural settlements and natural reserves coexist in a conflictive manner. This paper presents a cartographic investigation of this contested territory that highlight also the potentialities of the landscape. It also critically analyzes existing projects of informal upgrading and mobility infrastructure. Through this revision the article reflects on the principles of contemporary urban design. It also presents strategies for increasing landscape resilience while addressing the socio-economic challenges of the watershed.

Keywords: water urbanism; landscape urbanism; urban design