Society Magazine - page 34

One of the “half a good house” developments. Villa Verde Housing, 2013, Constitución, Chile. Photos by ELEMENTAL.
Top: “Half of a good house” development, financed with public money. Bottom: Middle-class standard achieved by the
residents themselves.
focus on residential architecture stems fromhis concern - which should be everyone’s
concern - that natural disasters, war, poverty and population growth create a pressing
demand for more than a billion homes worldwide. Looking back on architectural
education, Aravena believes that architects are not trained to deal with issues of social,
economical, political and legal nature. “It would be great”, he says, “withmore than one
million architects in theworld, that more solutions […] address this issue”.
Aravena’smost famous residential development is the “half a good house”.
The idea is simply that if there is not
enoughmoney to build a good house,
then instead of building a small house,
we can build — themost difficult — half
of a decent-sized house. The built half
would include structure, sanitary and
all essential technical components.
Because of limited governmental funds,
the priority is to provide peoplewith the
essential half of a properly sized family
home as a start. The residents can then
complete the other half in time, as their
needs and budgets grow. The first of
these units was built in Chile in 2004 for
$ 7,500, which included buying the land,
providing infrastructure and building the
house. Today, there are over 2500 units
built. “When you create an open system”,
states Aravena, “it customises itself, it
corrects itself, it’smore adapted to the re-
ality – not just the family but also cultural
diversity”. Contrary to the easy criticism
of the ‘anti-collaboration’ professionals
and public, a collaborative process is
not chaos where everything goes and
anyone can do as they please. It remains
a very closely coordinated systemguided
bywhat is there andwhat is not. The fact
that the house is built withwalls and not
frames, the dimensions of the empty half,
all those parameters guide the next steps
of residents within a carefully balanced
framework. Even though it is a solution
that sprung frombudget limitations, it is
not only a response to scarcity, it is indeed
a solution that answers a number of
issues and creates a number of oppor-
tunities. Even if budget was abundant,
Aravena believes that it would still be a
Participatory processes create an emerging value from the synthesis of all gathered insights.
Design: AKKA Architects
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