SOCIAL HOUSING (1) – QUINTA MONROY (2003-2004) _ THE MOST REVOLUTIONARY SOCIAL HOUSING PROJECT

DIY-ARCHITECTURE: HALF BUILT BY THE ARCHITECTS (LEFT), THE OTHER HALF ADDED BY THE INHABITANTS (RIGHT). HAILED AS THE MOST REVOLUTIONARY SOCIAL HOUSING PROJECT OF THE LAST DECADE, QUINTA MONROY IN IQUIQUE, CHILE, CONSISTS OF RESIDENCES FOR SQUATTERS WITH ONLY ONE HALF BUILT BY THE ARCHITECTS, ALSO BECAUSE OF THE EXTREMELY LOW BUDGET, 5,500 EURO, HELPING THE OWNERS TO CONSTRUCT THE SECOND HALF FOR EVEN A FRACTION, AND PERSONALISE THEIR HOMES.

IN OUR SERIES SOCIAL HOUSING (1) – CHILE

ALEJANDRO ARAVENA & ELEMENTAL: QUINTA MONROY (2003-2004)

In 2030, the world population living in cities will grow from 3 to 5 billion, with an estimated 2 billion trying to survive below the poverty line. Two criteria will be essential in the efforts to house them, says ELEMENTAL: SCALE and SPEED. The equation that the world needs to solve is: to build a 1 million-inhabitant city per week for the next 20 years with 8,000 euro per family. The necessary scale can only be achieved by a worldwide cooperation that transmits the necessary technology through specific projects to local builders and governments, so that these can apply them themselves, while prefabrication will have to be the keyword in order to generate the necessary speed.

Founded in 2000 at Harvard University by Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, in partnership with COPEC (Chilean Oil Company) and the Pontifica Universidad Católica de Chile,

ELEMENTAL S.A. is a for profit company and architectural firm with social interest. Initially focused on public housing projects in Chile, today it also works on a more international level, trying to put its “scale and speed strategy” at the service of poor communities, within the rules of existing policies and conditions of the market, using the city as a short­cut to correct inequalities, through the development of housing, public space, infrastructure and transportation projects, such as a housing prototype presented at the Milan Triennial, that can be assembled in 24 hours. It also partnered with Make It Right Foundation New Orleans, the City of Sao Paulo or the Government of Nuevo León, México, in developing projects based on its DIY-principles. `

Begun in 2003 and completed in 2004, Quinta Monroy was ELEMENTAL’s first built project: a 5,000sqm site illegally occupied by 93 families who had squatted the place for three decades, in the center of Iquique, a city of about a quarter million lying in northern Chile between the Pacific Ocean and the Atacama Desert. The settlement was unsafe, a labyrinth, and difficult to police. However, residents were adamant – likely due to the site’s central location— about remaining there. Rather than displace the residents, the Chilean Government asked ELEMENTAL to design permanent housing for them. However: the first challenge that Elemental faced was that each family had to be housed for 5,500 euro, the standard Chilean per-family housing subsidy, which has to pay for the land, infrastructure and architecture. Because of this strict budgetary limit, most of the social housing in Chile tends to sprawl over the countryside, where land can be bought more cheaply, allowing a greater percentage of the subsidy to be devoted to the architecture. Still: the architecture remains of poor quality further miring families in poverty away from the city. Because of the low value of the land social housing is usually built on and the low quality of the construction), social housing in Chile tends to depreciate in value, rather than appreciate.

There was only enough space on the site to build thirty individual homes or sixty-six row homes, so a different typology was required. High-rise apartments would provide the needed density, but not give residents the opportunity to expand their own homes, as only the top and ground floors would have any way to connect to additions. The allotted budget was only enough to pay for approximately 30sqm of built space, considering the current values in the Chilean building industry, and excluding the high cost of the land. ELEMENTAL thus settled on a typology of connected two-story blocks, snaking around four common courtyards, and designed as a skeletal infrastructure which the families could expand over time: only half of each house was built within the available budget, and included the features that were most difficult to construct – such as kitchens, bathrooms, stairs and dividing walls. In participative workshops the residents were incited to build the second half of the house (or rather the second and third stories on the second half of the lot) themselves according to their liking, and for an average of a mere 800 Euro, which also offered them the opportunity to customize and personalized their homes: the design saved on construction costs, created sub-communities (around the courtyards), and increased resident involvement by allowing each home to be and look unique, and thus also did away with what is considered the main flaw of prefabricated systems, its lack of flexibility.

Five years later, each of the 60 houses, grouped around communal courtyards, was valued at over 16,000 euro. Which proved the major point ELEMENTAL wanted to make with the project, using architectural tools to solve non-architectural questions, such as how to overcome poverty. While limiting itself to creating a scaffolding upon which families were able to make their own architecture, the Quinta Monroy project proved that it was possible to do away with the ruling negative perception of social housing, by turning it in a profitable investment, instead of a social expense. As for the inhabitants: it might make all the difference between long-term poverty and a gradual climb towards self-sufficiency.

Since 2004, ELEMENTAL has built another 1,000 units and designed an additional 2,000. (mb)

www.elementalchile.cl

QUINTA MONROY HAS BEEN SELECTED FOR THE MAPPING THE DESIGN WORLD EXHIBITION AT RECIPROCITY, THE DESIGN BIENNIAL FOR SOCIAL INNOVATION IN LIEGE, BELGIUM, FROM OCTOBER 5 TILL OCTOBER 28 2012, AND WILL ALSO FEATURE IN THE ACCOMPANYING MAPPING THE DESIGN WORLD MAGAZINE – FOCUSING ON MORE THAN 100 EXAMPLES OF (DO) GOOD DESIGN PRACTICE FROM AN EQUAL NUMBER OF COUNTRIES.

DIY-ARCHITECTURE: HALF BUILT BY THE ARCHITECTS (LEFT), THE OTHER HALF ADDED BY THE INHABITANTS (RIGHT). HAILED AS THE MOST REVOLUTIONARY SOCIAL HOUSING PROJECT OF THE LAST DECADE, QUINTA MONROY IN IQUIQUE, CHILE, CONSISTS OF RESIDENCES FOR SQUATTERS WITH ONLY ONE HALF BUILT BY THE ARCHITECTS, ALSO BECAUSE OF THE EXTREMELY LOW BUDGET, 5,500 EURO, HELPING THE OWNERS TO CONSTRUCT THE SECOND HALF FOR EVEN A FRACTION, AND PERSONALISE THEIR HOMES.

IN OUR SERIES SOCIAL HOUSING (1) – CHILE

ALEJANDRO ARAVENA & ELEMENTAL: QUINTA MONROY (2003-2004)

In 2030, the world population living in cities will grow from 3 to 5 billion, with an estimated 2 billion trying to survive below the poverty line. Two criteria will be essential in the efforts to house them, says ELEMENTAL: SCALE and SPEED. The equation that the world needs to solve is: to build a 1 million-inhabitant city per week for the next 20 years with 8,000 euro per family. The necessary scale can only be achieved by a worldwide cooperation that transmits the necessary technology through specific projects to local builders and governments, so that these can apply them themselves, while prefabrication will have to be the keyword in order to generate the necessary speed.

Founded in 2000 at Harvard University by Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, in partnership with COPEC (Chilean Oil Company) and the Pontifica Universidad Católica de Chile,

ELEMENTAL S.A. is a for profit company and architectural firm with social interest. Initially focused on public housing projects in Chile, today it also works on a more international level, trying to put its “scale and speed strategy” at the service of poor communities, within the rules of existing policies and conditions of the market, using the city as a short­cut to correct inequalities, through the development of housing, public space, infrastructure and transportation projects, such as a housing prototype presented at the Milan Triennial, that can be assembled in 24 hours. It also partnered with Make It Right Foundation New Orleans, the City of Sao Paulo or the Government of Nuevo León, México, in developing projects based on its DIY-principles. `

Begun in 2003 and completed in 2004, Quinta Monroy was ELEMENTAL’s first built project: a 5,000sqm site illegally occupied by 93 families who had squatted the place for three decades, in the center of Iquique, a city of about a quarter million lying in northern Chile between the Pacific Ocean and the Atacama Desert. The settlement was unsafe, a labyrinth, and difficult to police. However, residents were adamant – likely due to the site’s central location— about remaining there. Rather than displace the residents, the Chilean Government asked ELEMENTAL to design permanent housing for them. However: the first challenge that Elemental faced was that each family had to be housed for 5,500 euro, the standard Chilean per-family housing subsidy, which has to pay for the land, infrastructure and architecture. Because of this strict budgetary limit, most of the social housing in Chile tends to sprawl over the countryside, where land can be bought more cheaply, allowing a greater percentage of the subsidy to be devoted to the architecture. Still: the architecture remains of poor quality further miring families in poverty away from the city. Because of the low value of the land social housing is usually built on and the low quality of the construction), social housing in Chile tends to depreciate in value, rather than appreciate.

There was only enough space on the site to build thirty individual homes or sixty-six row homes, so a different typology was required. High-rise apartments would provide the needed density, but not give residents the opportunity to expand their own homes, as only the top and ground floors would have any way to connect to additions. The allotted budget was only enough to pay for approximately 30sqm of built space, considering the current values in the Chilean building industry, and excluding the high cost of the land. ELEMENTAL thus settled on a typology of connected two-story blocks, snaking around four common courtyards, and designed as a skeletal infrastructure which the families could expand over time: only half of each house was built within the available budget, and included the features that were most difficult to construct – such as kitchens, bathrooms, stairs and dividing walls. In participative workshops the residents were incited to build the second half of the house (or rather the second and third stories on the second half of the lot) themselves according to their liking, and for an average of a mere 800 Euro, which also offered them the opportunity to customize and personalized their homes: the design saved on construction costs, created sub-communities (around the courtyards), and increased resident involvement by allowing each home to be and look unique, and thus also did away with what is considered the main flaw of prefabricated systems, its lack of flexibility.

Five years later, each of the 60 houses, grouped around communal courtyards, was valued at over 16,000 euro. Which proved the major point ELEMENTAL wanted to make with the project, using architectural tools to solve non-architectural questions, such as how to overcome poverty. While limiting itself to creating a scaffolding upon which families were able to make their own architecture, the Quinta Monroy project proved that it was possible to do away with the ruling negative perception of social housing, by turning it in a profitable investment, instead of a social expense. As for the inhabitants: it might make all the difference between long-term poverty and a gradual climb towards self-sufficiency.

Since 2004, ELEMENTAL has built another 1,000 units and designed an additional 2,000. (mb)

www.elementalchile.cl

QUINTA MONROY HAS BEEN SELECTED FOR THE MAPPING THE DESIGN WORLD EXHIBITION AT RECIPROCITY, THE DESIGN BIENNIAL FOR SOCIAL INNOVATION IN LIEGE, BELGIUM, FROM OCTOBER 5 TILL OCTOBER 28 2012, AND WILL ALSO FEATURE IN THE ACCOMPANYING MAPPING THE DESIGN WORLD MAGAZINE – FOCUSING ON MORE THAN 100 EXAMPLES OF (DO) GOOD DESIGN PRACTICE FROM AN EQUAL NUMBER OF COUNTRIES.

02 SOCIAL HOUSING (1) - CHILE  ALEJANDRO ARAVENA & ELEMENTAL- QUINTA MONROY 03 SOCIAL HOUSING (1) - CHILE  ALEJANDRO ARAVENA & ELEMENTAL- QUINTA MONROY 04 SOCIAL HOUSING (1) - CHILE  ALEJANDRO ARAVENA & ELEMENTAL- QUINTA MONROY 05 SOCIAL HOUSING (1) - CHILE  ALEJANDRO ARAVENA & ELEMENTAL- QUINTA MONROY 2012 002 SOCIAL HOUSING (1) - CHILE  ALEJANDRO ARAVENA & ELEMENTAL- QUINTA MONROY 1

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