How a sports pavilion can take young people off the streets and help fight violence.
In 2013 Venezuela was ranked the most unsafe nation in the world by American research-based consulting company Gallup. 20.000 people are murdered every year in the Venezuelan capital, which has a population of six million, and of these six million around 60% live in slums. The United Nations states that such crime is due to the poor political and economic environment of the country.
In recent years, a huge investment in social programs led to a decrease in levels of extreme poverty, from 50% in 1999, to 27% in 2011, and consequently there has been a reduction of crime.
One of the projects created through this investment was the innovative vertical gymnasium at Barrio La Cruz, founded 11 years ago in Caracas and lately more recently replicated in São Paulo, New York and Zurich. It is a 4 million square foot multisport centre over several floors and which plays host to a variety of different kinds of activity– futsal (a kind of indoor football), basketball, volleyball , martial arts, water sports and there is also an athletics track. The space, which was designed by Urban Think-Tank, an architectural studio with an activist approach, can be set up in just four months.
This gym receives 15 000 visitors every month and aims to promote values such as fair play, tolerance and sense of community, in order to encourage young people to compete through sports “and not in violent street fights”, says Urban Think-Tank.
This is a living example of the concept of social architecture, whose focus is on people and their real needs.