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The Design of Large Technological Systems

The cases of Transmilenio in Bogotá and Metro in Copenhagen

Pineda, Andres Felipe Valderrama; Jørgensen, Ulrik

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Pineda, A. F. V., & Jørgensen, U. (2010). The Design of Large Technological Systems: The cases of

Transmilenio in Bogotá and Metro in Copenhagen. Kgs. Lyngby: DTU Management. (Ph D thesis; No. 5.2010).

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The Design of Large Technological Systems The cases of Transmilenio in Bogotá and Metro in Copenhagen PhD thesis 5.2010 DTU Management Engineering Andrés Felipe Valderrama Pineda June 2010 © Andrés Felipe Valderrama Pineda The Design of Large Technological Systems The cases of Transmilenio in Bogotá and Metro in Copenhagen June 2010 DTU Management Department of Management Engineering Technical University of Denmark Produktionstorvet 424 2800 Kgs. Lyngby Denmark Tlf. +45 +45 25 48 00 www.man.dtu.dk ISBN: 978-87-90855-82-6 Cover pictures by Andrés Felipe Valderrama Pineda To Quibi, Clemencia (mother and father), Tia Maga, Tia Christy, Tia Go, Julia, Luna, Mayté and Margarita, the women that made me, the women I am, the women of my life.

2 Me, we. Muhammad Ali (unspecified date) The city is not a whole, but a composite entity (Bender, 2009: 304) They never teach technology in engineering schools, if they don’t teach you to follow a project from the smallest cubbyholes up to the loftiest spheres (Latour, 1996: 142) 3 Table of Contents Figures 5  Abstract 6  Resumé 7  Acknowledgements 8 

1. Introduction 10 

1.1 Justification and outline of the problem 10 

1.2 Purpose and scope of the research 11 

1.3 Justification of the selected cases 13 

1.4 Outline of the dissertation 15 

2. Concrete problematization of this research 19 

2.1 The Design of Large Technological Systems 19 

2.2 Previous work on Transmilenio and Metro 22 

2.3 Points of departure in STS: LTS + ANT + AofD 26 

3. The Design of Large Technological Systems 36 

3.1 Scripts and delegation of agency in an arena of development 36 

3.2 Extended laboratories 42 

3.3 The missing symmetry in symmetrical analyses 48 

3.4 Passengers, users and the design of urban transport systems 50 

3.5 The Design of LTS and the city 52 

4. Methodology 56 

4.1 Case study research 56 

4.2 Data collection methodology 59 

5. Conclusions 61 

5.1 Main findings 61 

5.2 Reflections 63 

5.3 Future lines of research 65 

6. References 68 

6.1 Literature 68 

6.2 Interviews 75  Article appendix 76  Diesel vs. CNG (2007) 77  Urban transport systems and STS (2008) 90  How do we co-produce urban transport systems and the city? 112  Accessibility in urban transportation systems (forthcoming) 128  The Map of Transmilenio (forthcoming a) 140 


1. Copenhagen’s Metro diagram and main facts. Elaborated by the author based on an image taken from www.m.dk.

2. Bogotá’s Transmilenio first phase diagram and main facts. Elaborated by the author based on an image taken from Transmilenio corporate presentation, Power Point file, 2008, provided by Orlando Santiago from Transmilenio S.A.

3. Satellite picture of Bogotá highlighting the different trunk lines of Transmilenio available at http://img142.imageshack.us/i/bogtm063py.jpg/

4. Front cover of the report “Udvalget om Hovedstadsområdets trafikinvesteringer” (various authors, 1991).

5. Illustration of the relation of alternatives and rationalities in the process of selecting technology for the Metro in Copenhagen (Frederiksen, 1996: 10)

6. Drawings of a proposed design for the overground Metro stations (Sørensen and Juul-Sørensen, 1996: 20)

7. Picture of a model of the proposed overground Metro station (Sørensen and Juul-Sørensen, 1996: 20)

8. Picture of Sundby Station. Picture of the author.

9. Proposal for the route of a S-train from Frederiksberg to central Copenhagen and south to the airport (Trafik- og Kommunikationsministeriet, 1988: 24)

10. Drawing of the projected underground stations of a S-train running from central Copenhagen to the airport (DSB, 1988: 32)

11. Pictures of Nørreport metro station. Pictures of the author.

12. Diagrams showing schematically how engineering design processes should be (Dym, 1994: 25, 31).

13. Image taken from a slide of a presentation of Professor Steen Leleur, Course of Planning Theory, September 4, 2007.

14. Diagram of performance-capacity against investment cost (Vuchic, 2007: 566)

15. Diagram of capacity against capital costs as it is presented in the Bus Rapid Transit – Planning Guide (2007)


This is a study of the processes of design of large technological systems based on a twocase study: the rapid transit bus system, Transmilenio, in Bogotá, Colombia, and the urban rail system, Metro, in Copenhagen, Denmark. The research focused especially on the process by which designers define material scripts during the conception, construction, implementation and operation of large technological systems.

The main argument is that designers define scripts in a process in which three parallel developments are at play: first, a reading takes place of the history (past, present, future) of the arena of development where the system will be constructed. Second, designers define scripts through the delegation of agency, causes and responsibilities to humans and non-humans, a process in which the limits of the system are also defined and enacted. Third, the process of the definition of scripts implies a reconfiguration of the designing team, the supporting actors and the diverse user groups.

By tracing material scripts, the author accounts for the unfolding of visions, politics and materialities that constitute the system. The analysis contributes to understanding the complex sociotechnical dynamics involved in the design processes of large technological systems by revealing how their constitution produces a reconfiguration of the arena of development of urban transport. This dynamic substantiates the coevolution of technological systems and the city.


Dette er en undersøgelse af store teknologiske systemers designprocesser. Den er baseret på to case-studies: hurtig-bus systemet Transmilenio i Bogotá, Colombia, og bybanesystemet Metro i København, Danmark. Undersøgelsen fokuserer især på den proces, hvor designere definerer materielle scripts under udformningen, konstruktionen, implementeringen og driften af store teknologiske systemer.

Hovedargumentet er, at designerne definerer scripts i en proces, hvor tre parallelle udviklinger er på spil: For det første sker der en historisk læsning, det vil sige at fortid, nutid, og fremtid af den udviklingsarena hvor systemet vil blive bygget undersøges. For det andet, definerer designere scripts via en uddelegering af agency, årsager og ansvar for humane og ikke-humane. Denne er en proces, hvor grænserne for systemet også bliver defineret og enacted. Endelig indebærer processen af definitionen af scripts en omstrukturering af designerteamet, de støttende aktører og de forskellige brugergrupper.

Ved en opsporing af de materielle scripts redegør forfatteren for udfoldelsen af de visioner, politikker (politics) og materialiteter, der udgør systemet. Analysen er et bidrag til forståelsen af de komplekse sociotekniske dynamikker involveret i design processer af store teknologiske systemer, ved at afsløre, hvordan disses tilblivelse producerer en omstrukturering af udviklingsarenaerne for bytransport. Denne dynamik underbygger tesen om teknologiske systemers og byens fælles udvikling.


Two persons have been essential in making my intellectual development, the writing of this document and the world worth living in possible: they are my supervisor, Ulrik Jørgensen, and my wife, Julia Suárez Krabbe. Many parts of this text are indebted to them in many ways. Living in Denmark has been a delightful experience that would not have been possible without their unconditional support.

Many colleagues in Colombia think that studying for a Ph.D. and having children are two incompatible human adventures. I am happy to prove them wrong. Not only have Mayté and Luna grown surrounded by drafts, texts, travels, books, pictures, discussions and transport-related toys, but they have played the very important role of forcing me into daily and weekly breaks and posing some tricky questions that have made possible the development of my research and the writing of this text. Their existence has been so important for my intellectual development that I am now convinced that it is very hard to study for a Ph.D without children!

Being a Ph.D. student and having a family are of course not incompatible in Denmark, where graduate students have three things that are fiction to many of my colleagues in other European countries, in the United States, in Argentina and in Colombia: they have decent salaries; they have rights; and from the outset, they receive support to participate in international academic events. I consider these the best conditions in the world for developing a Ph.D., and I truly hope that the Danish academic community succeeds in maintaining and improving them. This research was possible thanks to a full scholarship provided by the Technical University of Denmark. Other institutions that supported this research financially are: Fund Idella and Fund Otto Mønsted in Denmark; and Universidad de Los Andes in Colombia.

I am especially grateful with Torben Elgaard Jensen, Iván da Costa Marques and Jane Summerton who accepted to assess the dissertation. I am also grateful to Liv Gish and Julia Suárez Krabbe who read the whole dissertation making important suggestions and to the people who made substantial comments to parts of these texts. They are: Antonio Arellano, Malcolm Ashmore, Isaac Beltrán, Ralf Brand, Gary Downey, Ignacio Farías, David Hess, Hanne Lindegaard, Juan C. Lucena, Clemencia Pineda (reader, mother and father), Dominique Vinck, Langdon Winner, Yutaka Yoshinaka and the anonymous reviewers of the Journal, Sustainability: Science, Policy and Practice and the special issue “People plus Technology” of the Journal of Built Environment.

I take the risk of making an incomplete list of the people that in one way or another contributed through generous conversation in academic environments. They are: Jorge Acevedo, Saeema Ahmed, Claudio Alfaraz, Arturo Ardila, Richard Arias, Juan Pablo Bocarejo, Sten Bonke, Søsser Brodersen, Juan Arturo Camargo, Christian Clausen, Harry Collins, Alexis de Greiff, Tove Frederiksen, Bent Flyvbjerg, Vasilis Galis, Antonio García, Yuri Jack Gómez, Maria Hellström, Darío Hidalgo, Jean Hillier, Maja Horst, Anne Jensen, Ole Jensen, Andreas Jørgensen, Erik Lauridsen, Steen Leleur, Torben Lenau, Gunilla Lindholm, Ernesto Lleras, Mike Michael, Tania Pérez, Olga 8 Restrepo, Tim Richardson, Inge Røpke, Elizabeth Shove, Ernst Schraube, Hernán Thomas, Bettina Törpel, Sebastián Ureta and Janet Vertesi.

Parts of this dissertation were presented at the following events, where it evolved thanks to the generous critical comments of many colleagues: Seminario de Estudios Sociales de la Ciencia, la Tecnología y la Medicina, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, 2006 and 2009; Reunión Anual de la Asociación Latinonamericana de Estudios de Ciencia y Tecnología – Esocite, Bogotá, Colombia, 2006; annual meeting of the Danish Association of STS, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2007; 4th Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems, Dubrovnik, Croatia, 2007;

Lancaster Sociology Summer Conference, Lancaster, UK, 2007; The International Committee for the History of Technology Symposium, Copenhagen, DK, 2007; annual meeting of the Society for the Social Studies for Science - 4S in Pasadena, California, US, 2005, Montreal, Canada, 2007, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 2008, and Washington, US, 2009; Networks of Design Conference, Falmouth, UK, 2008; workshop of the International Network for Engineering Studies INES, Lisbon, Portugal 2008; Workshop Mobility, the City and STS, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2008; curso de Tecnología y Sociedad, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia, 2009; IV Encuentro de Jóvenes Investigadores y 1ra Escuela Doctoral Iberoamericana en Estudios Sociales y Políticos sobre la Ciencia y la Tecnología – ESOCITE/CYTED, Caracas, Venezuela, 2009;

conference Revisiting Expertise – on experts and knowledge, Copenhagen, DK, 2009..

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