The Guardian

Behind the ‚Medellín miracle‘: why the smart kids are going to hip-hop school

Every night across the world’s former murder capital, young boys and girls study the four elements of hip-hop to transform a generation – and rehabilitate a city

“When my family moved to Medellín, all I could see was drugs, violence and prostitution,” says Zuleima Pérez, 21. “My best hope was to get married, have kids and find some basic job. This school allowed me to think bigger.”

Around us, in the graffitied courtyard of a high school in Aranjuez – formerly the most notorious of Medellín’s barrios – kids of all ages mill about. Bass spills from the adjoining classrooms. In one room, an exasperated teacher is leading infants in a warm-up; in another, teens are being marshalled in breakdancing exercises with the intensity of a military drill. Upstairs, a group of twentysomethings contort to a remix of Notorious BIG’s Kick in the Door.

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Cycling downhill: has Copenhagen hit peak bike?

The share of trips taken by bike in Denmark’s capital has fallen. With ever more cars on the road and a new metro line about to open, can Copenhagen reach its target to have half of all journeys made by bike?

It’s 8am on a rainy weekday morning on Copenhagen’s Nørrebrogade street and the stream of cyclists making their way into city centre is already getting jammed.

Cyclists often have to wait through two or three rounds of green lights before they can get past. At Dronning Louise Bridge – one of the busiest cycle routes in the world, with 48,400 bikes crossing each day – newly installed information boards remind riders to pas på hinanden, or be aware of each other.

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Raze, rebuild, repeat: why Japan knocks down its houses after 30 years

Unlike in other countries, Japanese homes become valueless over time – but as the population shrinks, can its cities finally learn to slow down and refurb?

In the suburban neighbourhood of Midorigaoka, about an hour by train outside Kobe, Japan, all the houses were built by the same company in the same factory. Steel frames fitted out with panel walls and ceilings, these homes were clustered by the hundreds into what was once a brand new commuter town. But they weren’t built to last.

Daiwa House, one of the biggest prefabricated housing manufacturers in Japan, built this town in the 60s during a postwar housing boom. It’s not unlike the suburban subdivisions of the western world, with porches, balconies and rooflines that shift and repeat up and down blocks of gently curving roads. Most of those houses built in the 60s are no longer standing, having long since been replaced by newer models, finished with fake brick ceramic siding in beiges, pinks and browns. In the end, most of these prefabricated houses – and indeed most houses in Japan – have a lifespan of only about 30 years.

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Punta Arenas in the spotlight: Chile’s oil-rich gateway city to the Antarctic

It once hosted Captain Scott and serves as a jumping-off point for expeditions to the icy wastes to the south. Global investment lies ahead – and better housing for the city’s indigenous population


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Sí, seniors: the Chilean city with grand plans to be the best place to grow old

Promising supervised flats, nursing homes and levelled streets, Valdivia’s Gerontological Hub project is tackling Chile’s ageing crisis head-on. Can it offset the country’s shockingly low privatised pensions?

The stereo cycles of Sicily: Palermo teens pump up the velo – in pictures

Bici Palermo Tuning – a group of teenagers from the Sicilian capital – spend anything up to €1,300 customising their bikes with car batteries and multiple speakers to develop thunderous sound systems. The police are not impressed

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‚If I’m stratum 3, that’s who I am‘: inside Bogotá’s social stratification system

Every district in Colombia’s capital is rated 1 to 6 for affluence, and its services subsidised accordingly. But is a laudable idea creating division and stigma?

“It’s good quality for the price,” says Carlos Jiménez, a construction worker, as he sips his coffee and leans against the polished counter in Tostao’, a coffee shop in Bogotá’s bustling working-class district of Tunjuelito.

Despite being one of the world’s biggest coffee producers, Colombia has traditionally exported its best beans, and the few chains that do sell it are expensive; Colombians have instead developed a taste for tinto, a sweet brew made out of leftover beans.

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Bids are in for Amazon’s HQ2. Now the contest begins – but will it be worth it?

US cities from Tucson to Atlanta have been vying to host the e-tailing giant’s new mega-complex. Few seem to have considered what they will get in return

The deadline has passed, but the competition has just begun. Since early September, US cities have been promoting their attributes, beautifying their reputations and putting on elaborate displays of civic seduction – all in an effort to convince Jeff Bezos and his team at Amazon to select them as the site of the e-tailing behemoth’s second headquarters.


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Hitler’s holiday camp: how the sprawling resort of Prora met a truly modern fate

Having stood for decades as a relic of Nazi hubris, the immense site of the ‘Strength Through Joy’ camp at Prora is being redeveloped and will soon serve its original purpose – housing holidaymakers

“You’d have thought there would have been a big hall or something,” declares a disappointed American voice on leaving the

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Canadian American family on surviving Taliban captivity: ‚We tried to make it fun‘

Caitlan Coleman and Joshua Boyle used lessons about British history and constellations to help their children after being abducted in Afghanistan

An American woman kidnapped in Afghanistan and held for five years said she and her Canadian husband did all they could to make captivity as fun as possible for their three children, concocting games out of garbage and teaching their eldest son British history to diminish his fears around beheadings.

“We tried to make it fun for them, as best we could,” Caitlan Coleman, 31,

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