Poma France’s design for Medellín’s Metrocable

This design won the 2009 Brit Insurance Designs of the Year award. The Metrocable is a system like a ski lift, but for the people who live on the hillsides of Medellín it is an indispensable mode of transportation. The steep sides of the city are home to some of the poorest, most populated neighborhoods, and the Metrocable offers these residents convenient access to the valley in a style befitting the landscape. Bringing quality, reliable transportation to the area is monumental; commuters would formerly spend more than two hours traveling by bus but the Metrocable takes only seven minutes. The system runs twenty hours a day, 355 days a year, and serves 1 000 000 passengers each month. Poma has introduced this technology in similar regions, including Quito, Ecuador. More information about Poma, and a video featuring the line.

I recall my own experience in beautiful Antioquia three years ago. The ride in the Metrocable gave me a panorama of homes stacked too close together, people cooking over fires built on rooftops, toddlers wandering alone. Our hosts, natives of Medellín, would not consider leaving the cable car because of the danger. The stories of these people are cast aside like their location in the city. Metrocable provides a link of opportunity between barrios Popular 1 and Popular 2 and the wealthier valley. Easing access to jobs, libraries, and education has infinitely increased the residents’ quality of life. It is impelling to witness how commodities like transportation and design can transform the lives of families who have been on the side of the mountain for centuries.

In the cable car (Don’t worry about the baby – he got in a fight with a swingset.)

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