Jota (José) Samper has been working as an architect and artist for more than 13 years and has been teaching architecture and urban design. He was born and raised in Medellín. He studied architecture at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Medellín. Since then, he has done art, architectural, urban and civic engagement projects in six countries: Colombia, Panama, the United States, Mexico, India and France. His work has won more than 5 national and international awards, including the Progressive Architecture Award two times. His work, as part of “Small Scale, Big Change: Architectures of Social Engagement” was on exhibit at the 2011 MoMA.
He has a Master’s Degree from the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning, where he is now a Ph.D. Candidate and a Presidential Fellow. His research seeks to understand if policies and practices that have both political and physical implications in the urban context are directly related with the reduction of violence (number of homicides) in Medellin during the 2003-2007 period. The main objective of this research project is to explore the real success or failure of these policies implemented in the city of Medellin, in a search to find successful strategies that can be implemented in other city/region/nation contexts around the world that are going through similar manifestations of socio political conflict and violence.
He is a co founder (since 2007) of DukeEngage Medellin, Colombia, a civic engagement in which students from Duke University, along with architects, planners and historians help communities to archive their memories in their own words and images.