Bogotá Art District Generates Profit, Creative Capital and Urban Renewal

Lori Zimmer
Oct 28, 2013 4:49PM

From Prodigy Network, an interesting take on Bogota-

As part of Prodigy Network’s portfolio of inspiring crowdfunded projects, we are partnering with Alejandro Castaño, a well known architect from Bogotá, in the development of the Bogota Art District, also known as BAD. This innovative artist residency program was designed to service the needs of individual artists and financial investors to generate profit, creative capital and urban renewal. We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Castaño to lean more about the inspiration for BAD, and the changes he hopes to see in Bogota as the program is integrated into the community.

“It’s a project with a soul and a spirit.”

Studio Gala and Carolina Lopez

Mr. Castaño started collecting art as just a hobby, but over the years his involvement has grown far beyond his expectations. He is now a well known influencer within the Bogotá art community, and his collection has become a significant representation of contemporary Latin American Art. The collection currently hangs on the walls of a house turned gallery space in a mostly residential neighborhood in Bogotá. Mr. Castaño refers to this space as “The Bodega”. Not only is The Bodega a space for showing art, but Mr Castaño also uses it as a dynamic event space, hosting important gatherings for an international group of curators and collectors mostly taking place during ArtBo (the Colombian equivalent to ArtBasel).

During our interview, Mr. Castaño explained, “As an architect I never intended to be a part of arts scene in Bogota. However overtime, my involvement enabled me to bridge the gap between my career and my passion for the arts. I started designing hotels where I incorporated into my plans the work I felt most passionate about; I began thinking about how I could create a visual conversation between the space and the art being displayed.”


“Jose Celestino Mutiz” by Andrés Bonilla

PN: How did the idea of the BAD come about?

Alejandro: The idea was born when I started thinking of Bogota, and its needs stemming from issues related to mobility, safety and traffic. I thought about how big cities are made up of smaller neighborhoods, each taking on a unique character defined by the varying styles of art, cuisine and theatre.

“I thought about how big cities are made up of smaller neighborhoods, each taking on a unique character defined by the varying styles of art, cuisine and theatre.”

For example, the issue of traffic and transportation in Bogota is very complicated. When the galleries are preparing new exhibits and events on the same day, it becomes impossible to visit them all at the same time, especially during rush hour. All the galleries are in different areas of the city and the issues with traffic don’t help. Additionally, artists cannot easily access transportation from their home to potential studio spaces or the galleries where their work is being displayed.

Studio Andrés Bonilla

PN: As BAD evolves and grows, what kind of changes do you expect to see in the community and the city of Bogotá at large?

Alejandro: On a smaller scale, I want to see an improvement in the quality of life and productivity of the individual artists involved with the project. It is also suppose to serve as a catalyst to the revitalization of abandoned areas throughout the Bogotá. BAD is our “gift of renewal” for the city we call home. It’s a project with a soul and a spirit.

“BAD is our “gift of renewal” for the city we call home.”

PN: What are your plans to involve the community?

Alejandro: BAD is not just a bunch of houses separate from its surroundings, and we are committed to making sure that BAD truly a part of the community. BAD involves the participation of artists, citizens and tourists visiting and engaging with the all aspects of the project. The idea is that the BAD will become a part of the city and recognized as a cultural, artistic and educational center that meets the needs of the community in these areas.

Lori Zimmer