doi 10.4067/S0718-83582009000100002


Spatial Dimension of University students’ Daily commuting: Greater Valparaiso Case Study1


Luis Álvarez A.2, Lisandro Silva A.3, Marcela Soto C.4

2 Chilean, Geographer, Master’s in Town-planning Universidad de Chile, professor in Departamento de Arquitectura UTFSM (Architecture Department), Geography professor in Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, specialist in Remote Sensors, GIS, Spatial Anaylisis

3 Chilean, Architect (1983) and Master’s in Town-planning (1995) U. de Chile, Urban-planning professor in under-graduated courses in FAU, U. de Chile y Universidad Andrés Bello and post graduated courses in Univesidad de Viña del Mar and INVI Universidad de Chile

4 Chilean, Ms. Architect, Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María professor, Territory and Managment Line Coordinator UTFSM, PhD. Researcher of the Technische Universiteit Delft

Abstract: This research explores the need to identify the every day university students commuting patterns from their place of residence to the university and how this have been changing due to new dynamic influences within the urban metropolitan context of Gran Valparaiso, Chile. These dynamic urban changes are mainly characterized by functional imbalances within the metropolitan urban structure, and a substantial increase in global accessibility to road infrastructure investment programs on its main urban corridors producing an uneven and increasing urban development. These changes studied from a specific mobile group as university students are, allowed this study to visualize new mobility trends, linked to a more centrifugal model that “externalizes” the students’ residents to a metropolitan urban context, with social and urban-environmental consequences that this investigation is trying to explore.




Concentration of population and certain services activities is happening in big metropolitan zones in every urbanized and industrialized country; within this context the main condition to have access to labor market, comfort, education and leisure is mobility. The main objective of this study done by academic researchers of the line of Territory and Management of the Department of Architecture, financed by CONCURSO DE FONDOS DE INVESTIGACION 2008 (University grant) from the Universidad Santa Maria Direccion General de Investigacion (Research General Department), is to analyze the students’ mobility tendency from their residences to the University main Campus in Gran Valparaiso. It is a vital variable to study as the students concentrate almost 50% of the total 1,263,663 daily travels according to the latest (Origin Destination) survey done by SECTRA V Region.

The study will focus in metropolitan areas emerged out of conurbation which implies big city complexities where commuting is one its main manifestation. Gran Valparaiso, as case study includes a metropolitan area of 5 communities with a population of 850,000 inhabitants; taking in consideration the productive replacement system, services hegemony displacement, labor flexibility, educational opportunities and its diversity makes a must to treat it as a topological problem, in other words, territorial. In fact Gran Valparaiso population moves 27% more than in the last 15 years, and a substantial number of floating population are students. According to Marcial Echenique (urban planner in charge of all the big transport infrastructure projects the last 10 years) mobility has increased in 250% since big concessions started in Chile, particularly in Gran Valparaiso that has two of the major national concessions as it is “Troncal Sur” as well as large public projects as the fourth section of Avenida España, South access to Valparaiso port and the international road rebuilding among others.

People’s urban mobility affects productivity and their quality of life which influences university students’ world, increasing their commuting time to the university, atmosphere contamination, less leisure time (extra curricular activities), less time studying at home, low productivity and exhaustion due to longer and more uncomfortable commuting and increasing levels of acoustic and atmospheric contamination. According to MINEDUC (Education Ministry) Higher Education Division data, the young population percentage, between 18 and 24 years old enrolled in pre-graduated studies in the university has increased from 16.3% in 1992 to 33.3% in 2005 with an average annual growth of 1.3%. The young population segment that has enrolled in the university has almost doubled in the last decade.

Santa Maria University with its 7,800 students, adds more less 11% of the regional university enrollment and it moves mainly through Avenue España, the main connecting axis between the cities of Valparaiso and Viña del Mar and the rest of the urban system (Con Con, Quilpue and Villa Alemana) at the edge of Los Placeres Hill that set the daily mobility patterns within the urban area, as the students move their residences within the metropolitan urban space, even further away from the immediate university area surroundings as accessibility to those areas improves.

On the other hand, the university founding policy to integrate “puerta adentro” (inside door) all the university, including in-campus university residence has changed through out time as the country’s reality has and the students socio-economic characteristics have too.

The university students welfare network that was conceived this way and has lasted up to now, has generated a dependency between the University Campus and the immediate growing urban context as the students’ residence have changed, originally within the university campus (university boarding houses modality) that was transferred to city residence, at the beginning in the adjoining Los Placeres hill neighborhood guest houses.

The social welfare linked has been kept, hence location proximity development has emerged based in residence-university interaction measured by Gran Valparaiso real estate offer related to its urban-residential services and transport corridors needed by the university students and staff. Finally, the relationship between the metropolitan urban, real estate offers and where the university is located in relation with the students’ mobility patterns linked to their socio-economic origin which allows to clearly identified and characterize it.


Urban Commuting Model Problem

It can be said that if transport demand increases at the same speed as the economy does in the 21st century, and if it is assumed that either land or air transport mainly contribute to environment pollution; also the uneven city’s public services and means access; the sustainability goals are far behind it. If it is agreed that today’s commuting system is made of: people, information and products and that its technology to store or carry it out is completely interdependent, pressuring to be just on time for economic reasons analogous to urban transport that demands a fast service, reliable and good to be recommended to others. If we make the analogy to modern economic systems, it is more demanding and is characterized by more pressure for lower cost trough increasing productivity and reducing deficiencies that leads put attention to the necessary transport system networks to provide in a better way the production process.

Every country recognizes nowadays the transport system as a key factor for economic development and they feel compel to satisfy road infrastructure required by the population mobility imposed by globalization restructuring. The competitive market among cities and countries and regions, that each day, integrates even more, a world system with major resources and markets connection through world chains of supplies. The international trade and reciprocal economic relations level increases leading to production alliances and resources externalization given by countries that offer competitive advantages. The external transport networks demands made by this world markets system still support the associative equation between economic growth and transport.

Within this context of neo-liberalism, some important aspects have to be considered to help understand the direct effect of globalization on mobility. The transport market liberalization to the private sector still has a double equation, on one hand a large private investment though a service of high public interest. This way, although de-regularization uses competition and this should encourage transformations in an organizational level of the private transport sector and with it, increasing technological innovations; still this has not been completely accurate in practice. It has been absolutely clear the transport markets de-regularization has been more support to oligopolies than real competition and the direct effect of this model has been a very bad quality service or lack of serious commitment from the private sector due to the internalization of external cost of transport. Finally, all the negative transport externalities in urban areas are taken over by the citizens and central government.


Sustainable Mobility

Urban town planning and cities organization directly influences mobility characteristics and guidelines as well as transport policies. The different mechanical means of transport, pedestrians proportion or bicycle use re-insertion is directly derive from the city town planning. Even though some urban policies give priority to means of public transport, others try to balance motor transport from non-motor one and others, promote private transport and large roads infrastructure construction. All this options required design and planning according to the needs of each mobility model, however, this is a reciprocal relationship, as each mobility model requires a more efficient and sustainable city model5.

The result of over two decades analyzing the cities extension has ended in the elaboration of a new development concept that gives the criterion of any human activity that implies natural and human resources usage. Within this group of strategies and activities, transport and mobility should have a key role. In the U.N. Conference in Rio (1992) specific terms were mentioned that summarize the characteristic the transport sector should have to be able to be a sustainable activity. Even if most researches in transport or mobility focus in contamination emissions, noise and energy expending that leads to technological advances, it also implies transformations in space and time organization. The problem is not to go faster, but to access to a better viability6 to reach its final destination in a pleasant way. It is necessary to motivate short distances and diverse means of transport that allow a lower speed as a bicycle or even walks, aiming to improve the quality of life. It is also targets to reduce mobility, to have the services needed near the residence place and to generate new centers within it, consolidate urban areas, provide with services and to equip and of course strengthen the communities. This is the major purpose of this investigation.



Finally the metropolitan dynamics are analyzed within the context of the university students’ residential location patterns of the main Santa Maria University campus students. Cities’ growth is largely investigate in recent years related to its capacity to move and hold people, information and goods in what authors like Ascher call “PIG mobility model” 7. On the other hand, urban policies are oriented to adapt cities to mobility speed and low housing density. This line of public action has added effects in its growing lack of social equity related to urban goods and services access, and if it is also taken in consideration the urban mobility policies effects that increase the urban concentration process or metropolization with a low spatial polarization process and urban dispersion effects in all the territorial scales8.

From the perspective that partial mobility studies are linked to metropolitan processes of urban dynamics that justify for this study, to explore the metropolitan context of Gran Valparaiso as a framework to explain the study of this emerging phenomena, specifically in this investigation University Santa Maria students’ mobility for two specific reasons:

a) On one hand, the daily mobility structure of Gran Valparaiso (in terms of back and forth daily travel from home and work and services centers). It shows a mono-centric structure underneath Valparaiso’s town planning as the main reason to travel, motivation such as access to study, services and work during different times of the day.

b) Valparaiso Region is the second concentration of university enrollment in the country and out of the total mobility of Gran Valparaiso, the ones done by motives like studying are 28.4% following in importance work travels that are 40.6% of the daily travels. Both motivation are 69% of them.

For this reason, it is relevant the mobility patterns of one of the most important university in Valparaiso, located in the center of the city’s metropolitan daily travel points which are influenced by urban services and transport. In fact real state residential offer comes from two different complementary origins; one the regular residential demand, all year round and other university students housing needs during the school year (March-December) and the tourist accommodation during the summer (January and February). If the cities’ environmental sustainability depends in its mobility model, the Universities location in Gran Valparaiso, and if the university students are the second largest group of people that commutes within the metropolitan area, it does make sense to be concerned about this group transport demands related to the economic variable within the metropolitan urban growing set.


Gran Valparaiso as a Urban Structure in Transition

The transition from a conubanization to a metropolitan area is a natural process in the neighboring urban areas metabolism, a transition process that agglutinates, develops interaction and more complex relationships.

Valparaiso and its particular context was developed during the 20th Century, organized, reinforced and structured a unit named Gran Valparaiso that has 822,829 inhabitants, although now for administrative reasons must be referred as Valparaiso, Viña del Mar, Villa Alemana, Quilpue, Con Con, all of them together are a metropolitan unit, quite integrated and organized as suburbs at first to then become a conurbanization, Patrick Geddes’9 concept. This concept allows understanding the first conurban structures relationships, mainly through the accessibility degrees generated from the functions and territorial specialties. This relationships end up organizing and relating urban dynamics as an open system mode in the context where they develop, becoming a “Metropolitan Area”.


Valparaiso Metropolitan Area, Organization and Interaction.

Gran Valparaiso metropolitan urban system started developing as a port city which demanded railroad infrastructure developing on the terraces and costal plains of the Marga Marga basin, generated by the neighboring cities of (Viña del Mar, Quilpue and Villa Alemana), that has been reinforced by the industrial revolution territorial actions, particularly by the “Early Industrial Development” established in Viña del Mar’s industrial belt.

Valparaiso’s urban structure has the following demographic configuration:

















Viña del Mar














Villa Alemana








Valparaiso led the conurbanization development that was mainly supported by the primitive infrastructure and functionalism of the territorial order as follow:

Viña del Mar as Valparaiso’s industrial annex, Quilpue as receptacle of Viña de Mar’s industrial externalities and Villa Alemana as railroad support with Aconcagua Valley cities.

The increment of the industrial equipment and a early development project has seen the increase of the inner cities urban structures to the point of large increment of the urban structure.


Metropolitan mobility

The “Desarrollo Nacional” Project has gradually reconfigured the conurbanization aspect of Valparaiso and Viña del Mar’s change from a Valparaiso’s annexed industrial city to a beach resort pushed by State driven policies. Mid 20th Century urban policies led to transform the inland urban units, mainly cause at first by housing needs emerged by industrialization. The real estate housing and equipment offer were residential (Quilpue and Belloto), and the economic activities were kept in Valparaiso, including the universities.

Gradually the housing need increased, the MINVU (Ministry of Housing and Urbanism) creation and its urbanization offices makes the urban structure organize and begins to structure, rising a territorial hierarchy; economic activity city center and of State offices representation in Valparaiso, support infrastructure and residential area in Viña del Mar, social housing and spontaneous growing in Quilpue and Villa Alemana.

The deep transformation of urban policies since 1979, the new role of the State and the private sector investment reshaped the urban conditions changing it into a Metropolitan configuration.

In short transformation translated into: Inversely proportional distribution to the historical centrality, investment concentration in cities with accumulative advantages (accessibility, infrastructure, salaries’ value, and lack of competition in peripheric activities). Viña del Mar has more inhabitants than Valparaiso (1984) and the private sector services concentration shows a similar situation.

Gran Valparaiso reorganization has a multi-focal approach, re-orienting and specializing in the following way:

• Valparaiso concentrates the State administrative structure, emphasizing productive activities.

• Viña del Mar concentrates services, housing and tourism.

• Quilpue and Villa Alemana are mainly residential with State housing subsidiary programs which make them, the system dormitory cities.

• Con Con as a newly developed city, specializes in speculative residential and tourist city

The metropolitan organization generates developed units as extension that makes mobility a must within the metropolitan context every time the transformations by globalization produce a more flexible and uncertain new context.

The metropolitan area characteristics can be summarized:

• Labor flexibility which implies permanent mobility.

• Segregation: Urban structure divided according to social economic distribution.

• Infrastructure: Large roads and railroads infrastructure generated in neighboring territories.

• Acephalic: No central government agencies, mainly local municipalities’ administration.

• Interdependent: The cities’ population generates creates mutual interdependence between them, parts that complement.

• Permanent mobility: Inhabitants towards the periphery and dispersion.

A first approach to these characteristics is the socio-economic structure analysis from this table below:


Table 2. Socio-economic structure of Gran Valparaiso, elaborated by the investigation at Redatam +, from the Adimark/Ine 2004 model.












































Segmented socio-economic structure shows that Valparaiso has ABC 1 and C2 population in favor of D and E lower income segments. Viña del Mar has the high income sector and according the contemporary logic of urban dualism, it also concentrates a large volume of poverty.


Figure 1. Economic structure of Gran Valparaiso, elaborated by the investigation at Redatam +, from the Adimark/Ine 2004 model.


The inland cities concentrate the system vitality and hold mainly the middle class C3 group.

The C2 and C3 groups are the ones with more mobility, especially when they were asked in the population census if they study or work within the local community, Quilpue and Villa Alemana move between 34 and 27% respectively, a great pendular move between the inland and costal Valparaiso and Viña del Mar.

These communities are also the ones that have the greatest inter-census increase, between 19 and 22% respectively in the census 1992 and 2002 for Quilpue and Villa Alemana, contrasting Valparaiso population decrease and 12% growth in Viña del Mar, the national average is around 11 to 12%.


Current Mobility conditions in Gran Valparaiso

The mobility increased in the macro central zone due to large transport infrastructure investment in the last 10 years. It can be said that Gran Valparaiso (GV) has changed its flow patterns, hanging to the regional mobility and with it feeding new peripheric centralities. The accesses to the metropolitan system measured through the daily transport flow in any station are not meaningful. The inland cities, either from Aconcagua valley or Marga Marga (Limache) basin entrance to GV do not show relevant data, as the entrance to the capital city of Santiago. The data shows that the South-east entrance has higher numbers explained by Valparaiso suburban development that concentrates 40% of the port housing demand either by private sector or central government management of the city’s urban limits extension.


Figure 2. Gran Valparaíso access - Absolute Vehicular flow (Image Gis, L. Alvarez, M. Soto)


If the analysis is focus in the metropolitan system, it can be clearly seen the pendular dynamic between the cities that are part of it. Valparaiso center still concentrates the labor market, national government (congress), regional and communal; besides it holds all the administrative and logistic port services. Viña del Mar still concentrates all the tertiary services and Con Con, Villa Alemana and Quilpue are the dormitory cities. The data were taken from 2002 census based on the question “Do you work or study in the community?” that shows that most of the people who lives in the surrounding cities of the metropolitan zone still work in Valparaiso and Viña del Mar center, concentrating the highest traffic flow towards the port in the mornings. The daily mobility measured by the absolute vehicular flow in different points of the territory helping to understand where the collapsed system’s areas are and the roads saturate. This shows that the pivotal zone of the pendular movement of the GV system is in Viña del Mar center at the juncture of the city border with the coastal line.


Figure 3. 2002 census, Do you work or study in the community? (Gis, L. álvarez, M. Soto)


Figure 4. Color graduation inversely proportional to the intensity of the socio-economic level (Gis, L. álvarez , M. Soto)


If we analyze the socio-economic structure of the metropolitan system some mobility tendencies can be identified given by the means of transport mainly used in each community. Valparaiso concentrates the poorest sector (D) that makes the community dependent on public transportation 47% and also it is the highest percentage of people walking 18% due to Valparaiso’s landform structure. The port plan contrasting Viña del Mar concentrates ABC1 population who surround the city center and expands to Reñaca which have the private motor vehicles concentration within the metropolitan area 53 %.


Figure 5. Territorial distribution images according to the population socio-economic stratum (Gis, L. álvarez , M. Soto)


Together with the socio-economic characterization of Gran Valparaiso, it is important in this analysis the sustainable mobility, establish the “bottle neck” as physical configurations that determines in a great extent the population mobility conditions and its development expectative in the future as part of the context variables that defines the localization of “extramuros” (0ut of the city limits0 patterns evolution of the Universidad Santa Maria students residence.

Figure 6 shows the “T” shape that determines the transport corridor structure that configures the Gran Valparaiso metropolitan territory through out the costal border and its extensions to the Quilpue and Villa Alemana valley and the university location on the costal border that connects Valparaiso with Viña del Mar. The traffic jams that restrict road networks services are mainly in Viña del Mar and Valparaiso’s plans and its access or connection axis nodal points with the respective hills where the figures show the greatest vehicular flow increase. These two zones are the main attraction points as they concentrate the greatest services and commerce areas that provide the metropolitan area.


Figura 6. Flows related to roads traffic and the UTFSM location (Gis, L. álvarez, M. Soto)



Conditions of the University Mobility Development

Analyzing the main link based on Travel Origin-Destiny Survey information of Gran Valparaiso10 to Macro-Zones OD level were able to identify the spatial system and Gran Valparaiso centralities in a greater restriction period to the rush hour morning mobility one and the public means of transport and private vehicles.

Figure 7 shows that a three centralized nodal point structures generate. The main attraction point in the morning rush travel is the Valparaiso Plan from which practically 70% of the OD macro zones depend. The entire costal border up to Reñaca and the Viña-Quilpue Villa Alemana corridor. A second order attraction point is Viña del Mar Center Plan from which its immediate south periphery depends (Marga-Marga, East Viña and Forestal).


Figure 7. Gran Valparaíso functional structure, private vehicles modality, morning rush hours (L. Silva, 2007, based on OD, SECTRA, 2000 survey)


Finally for private vehicles mobility two attraction points of third order show up: Marga-Mar (traditional services and commercial center) and Baron-Placeres that gravitates towards first Santa Julia and second Viña Plan. The Santa Maria University main Campus at the border of the system’s main attraction point: Plan Valparaiso. It is a third order attraction point after Valparaiso and Viña del Mar plans.

A second functional structural analysis was done for the public transport mobility in morning rush hours. The functional structure shows a similar one to the previous one, but with certain variations related to the immediate periphery of the second and third order centers as Viña Plan that turns its influence towards Santa Julia and Con Con.

Valparaiso Plan still is the main travel attraction point of the whole metropolitan area and functionally unbalances the territory mobility dynamic.

The university location near the Valparaiso Plan on Baron-Placeres and next to España Avenue corridor between Valparaiso .and Viña gives accessibility comparative advantage, though also is an expansion factor for students residential location. Once again the Santa Maria university main campus location at the border of the system’s main attraction point center of the Valparaiso Plan. The difference in the public transportations travel, the university location is in a totally dependent center of other urban centers, mainly Valparaiso Plan.


Figure 8. Gran Valparaíso functional structure, public transportation modality, morning rush hours (L. Silva, 2007, based on OD, SECTRA, 2000 survey)


Even if the location near Valparaiso metropolitan center is advantageous as high accessibility spot, the problem is that the dynamic transformation of the metropolitan center of activities is a “variable surrounding” for the university as gradually is changing the center residential usage, and in the best possible scenario, produces a “invasion succession” phenomenon (new activities or higher income residents that dislodge the old residents) described by the urban ecologist as the central and better accessibility territories keeps rising their value, it is reasonable that the residential area near the university is becoming more expensive for the university students so they move out to further distance space-time locations.

The tables below confirm the territory of influence of the Santa Maria University as in more than 50% of the travels generated and attracted subscribe to the Valparaiso Plan main 4 zones Valparaiso Alto, Viña Plan and Baron-Placeres for all the travels in every modality, at any time of the day.

The second order shows the influence area developed by Alvarez Viña to Quilpue and Viña del Mar Alto-Recreo sector. As the metropolitan services and commerce grows in Valparaiso center, the interaction tendencies to the periphery Viña del Mar-Quilpue axis is consolidated, circumscribed territory by the Isochronal curve of 30 minutes from the zone 53 (dark green line in figures 7 and 8).


Table 3. Travels from and to ZOD 53, Santa MarÍa University location


University Students Residential Location Determiners: Housing Offer Dynamic in Gran Valparaiso

The existing housing stock is the greater percentage or rent offer for university students, either in guest house and room mates sharing housing modality of new apartments. Out of Gran Valparaiso housing stock 38% is in Viña del Mar, 31.1% in Valparaiso, the rest is in Quilpue (15.2%). Villa Alemana (11.0%) and Con Con (4.4%).

Most of the urban housing offer for the university students and tourist residential demand is explained by the real estate renting market. The table below shows people who rents with higher education by housing type and Gran Valparaiso community.


Table 4. Rented housing by people with more than 12 years of education, by community and type of housing in Gran Valparaiso (Census, 2002)


It shows the shared housing is a reduced universe of (0.5%) related to the total housing and within this category Valparaiso and Viña del Mar with 654 (45.8%) and 593 (41.5%) concentrate the housing offer (guest houses, hotels and hospitals). 2,245 (0.9%) houses are rooms in old houses for rent or tenements and are mainly concentrated in Valparaiso (62.8%) and Viña del Mar (24.4%). Apartment units rented are 64.168 (24.6%)of the total housing in this conditions. The percentages interchange as 56.8% are in Viña del Mar and 25.5% in Valparaiso. Houses that are for rent for people with higher education are around 189.174 and are 71.5% of the total offer. Valparaiso has 32.2% and Quilpue 17.4%.

The census 2002 information reveals the important factors that explain the growth in Gran Valparaiso and its localized residential offer. The data shows the existing correlation level between the housing offer location in Gran Valparaiso and the university students’ location. Finally, it is analyzed USM university students’ residential location, adding the real estate offers within the Gran Valparaiso because it explains the apartment boom buying in Viña to rent as university students residence and tourism especially by the costal border in Viña Plan towards the North of Gran Valparaiso.

The last three census show a stagnation tendency of the population growth in Viña and Valparaiso and an important increase in the peripheric communities of Con Con, Quilpue and Villa Alemana. Nevertheless Viña has a steady growth of the real estate apartment offer and according to the sector data is predominantly second houses linked to tourist residential demand and complementary to university students.


Table 5. Population evolution in the last 20 years in the cities of the inter-community of Valparaiso (source: L. Silva 2007, based on Plan de Desarrollo Urban Regional de Valparaíso information, SEREMI MINVU, V Region)


Figure 9. Population evolution, by community in Gran Valparaiso (source: INE)


This building densification growth dynamic and residents population decrease also reflects on the urbanized surface numbers in the same territory. The increase of the urbanized surface between the years 1991 and 2001 surpasses in each case, more than 50% even in cities that numbers do not show an important demographic growth such as Valparaiso and Viña del Mar11.

This situation becomes critical if you compare it with the geographical limitations reflected in the urban system for its growth and the mono-centric functional structure above mentioned that produces growing mobility problems for the population, economic activities and tourists that affect the central location of the university.


Table 6. Surfaces consumption projection 20010, according MINVU V Region


Housing Private Market Offer and University Students Residential Location

Taking the data base as starting point, the statistical series of apartment and housing sales of the CCHC, that register the real sales stocks on the 2003 horizons up to now shows that that horizon determines the real estate sales behavior and the real market behavior in the inter-community in Gran Valparaiso as its size.


Table 7. Housing market in Gran Valparaiso (Units sold, source: CCHC.)

Tipo Vivienda




a Abr-07

















The housing market characterizes by two offer segments: single family houses and apartments. The table above shows the volume of sold units per apartment and houses between 2004 and 2006 and up to April 2007. According to this information, the average annual sales is 2,100 apartments and 1,263 houses, with a total of 3,363 annual units sold that are approximately 1,4% of the rented residence total stock in table 4 between houses and apartments.


Figure 10. Gran Valparaíso real estate offer, by urban sector (source: L. Silva based on CCHC data.)


The private market spatial distribution it is done through the Camara Chilena de la Construccion (Chilean Chamber of Construction) that has statistics of 10 urban sectors of Gran Valparaiso as it shows in the above figure. The month of April 2007 shows that the apartment market concentrates the real estate offer in decreasing order: Viña Plan, Costal Border, Reñaca-Con Con and Valparaiso Hills. The housing market concentrates more than 50% of the offer in decreasing order: Curauma, Quilpue and Villa Alemana.


Figure 11. Real estate stock percentage offer per urban sectors in Gran Valparaíso (source: L. Silva, CCHC, April 2007)


The figure shows that 69% of the apartment offer concentrates in the tourist attraction zone of Viña Plan, Costal Border and Reñaca-Con Con. The housing offer is concentrated 73% in Curauma, Quilpue and Villa Alemana sector, in other words at the periphery of Gran Valparaiso. This offer is mainly linked to the urban residential housing need, not necessarily related to renting link to Viña del Mar tourist demand as it is the trend with apartments.


Figure 12. Gran Valparaíso apartment and housing monthly sales, April 2003 y April de 2007 (L. Silva, taken from CCHC data.)


According to the figure apartments and houses sales show a consistent monthly behavior. The greatest sales volume was in 2004 and 2005. The annual housing units sold the last 4 years has been between 3000 and 3600 units, 2005 had the highest number of houses sold (3600). Apartment and houses Units sold behavior tendency between April 2003 and April 2007 had a clear trend to sell more apartments than houses two thirds of the real estates sales that year, although the apartment and housing market tendency increasingly diverges with slight difference between one and the other, apartments increase in an average 1.5% and houses decrease around 0.7% monthly.

This behavior and specialization of Gran Valparaiso real estate markets is shown in terms of apartments and houses total sales share percentages 1:3 proportion with an increasing apartment offer market. If a correlation is done between this data and the real estate offer and sales distribution by zones, it confirms that apartment offer can be easily explained by second house demand either as holiday rest or to rent in tourist attraction zones, on the other hand residents housing demand is offered in the peripheric areas: Curauma, Quilpue, Villa Alemana.

The housing offer by size, mainly concentrates in 71 and 90 m2 surface (35%) and 91 to 110 m2 surface (26%). It is also important to mention that a part of the small size housing segment between 51 and 70 m2 that represent 21% of the housing offer. This segment mainly concentrates in Curauma and Villa Alemana on the other hand the size 71 5o 90 m2 housing offer is mainly in Quilpue and Curauma. The bigger houses are in Reñaca-Con Con and the area with the wider range is Curauma with 51 to 130 m2 housing offer surface spectrum.

Apartments offer distributes in a greater range of surfaces in the same proportion that houses in the range of 51 to 140 m2, though it also has segments with smaller surfaces than 51 m2 (18%) of the market. This small apartment’s offer concentrates mainly in Viña Plan, Valparaiso Plan and Hills, Costal Border and Reñaca-Con Con. It also correlates with the zones’ characteristics where these apartments are offer, in other words second houses and tourist and university students’ demand. This last demand mention explains small apartments offer in Valparaiso.

The above mention makes sense and confirms the hypothesis that decentralized university (new housing solutions) towards Gran Valparaiso follows the pattern of second house real estate offer, at least in Viña del Mar, in Valparaiso’s case tendency confirms that new housing in density in the plan and emerging in Valparaiso Alto.


USM students’ location

It was access to the university students’ data base to map the USM students’ location patterns, taking their addresses and type of scholarship or welfare they get if any is received (financial aid, food, etc).

A sample was taken from the universe of 7.800 university students. The sample was calculated using the formula:


N=Population size.

Z=Trust level.

p=Success probability or expected proportion (USM student)

q=Failure probability.

d=Pressure (maximum error accepted in terms of proportion)

Applying the formula:

To 90% trust, the simple turns out to be significant 366 cases. Once the estimated sample number was chosen, the students were contacted with geo-reference to be able to apply SIG, the analysis that correlate the residential location patterns and mobility urban offer development and resident patterns in Gran Valparaiso. The university students’ guest houses were located in the territory to compare those location patterns with the students according to GSE.

The figure below shows the crossed information and confirms the existent correlation between the university students traditional residential offer such as “university students home” (rooms in houses) and low income students location within the immediate university surroundings. It is observed that students with higher income tend to locate within the isochronal curve of 30 minutes influence travel and the most expensive real estate offer related to Viña Plan, Costal Border, Agua Santa-Recreo and towards the North, Reñaca-Con Con.

This type of student tends to rent apartments that in summer are part of the costal border tourist residential offer. If the figures below are observed the students with financial aid have a more disperse spatial location, not with a clear dependency to be close to the university nor segregated by socio-economic level of the residential location.

While students access to food scholarships (university welfare for low income students, giving them meals within the universities facilities), they look for locations near the university, the students with financial aid show disperse location patterns following the apartment offer tendency within Viña del Mar and Costal border real estate offer. The greater dependency of students with food scholarship is explained because they need to get the benefit from the scholarship in daily basis and it has to do with their daily activity on the other hand financial aid students benefit has to do with fees and enrolment fees which allows the student to pay better residential location. The study so far has shown the importance of the urban environment where the students live. Students’ mobility patterns in cities with a population of university students such a Gran Valparaiso are relevant in terms of the travel length as the public services and resources usage by the university students. The university location in the central part of town that used to be a comparative advantage gradually is reverting its benefits as the metropolitan centrality context introduces changes in relation to the campus with the city; related to land use that changes and tends to centralize services and commerce and moves out residential land use. In this case is important to realize that cities’ growth implies social cost because size increase and travel times from one place to another for its inhabitants, problem that students have to deal with as workers for sure do.


Figure 13. USM students’ sample distribution, According to GSE ABC1 stratification. Includes in red dots the university residence location in the urban


Figure 14.Food scholarships students, Isocrona influence area of 30 minutes, and socio-economic groups ABC1 per block POR MANZANAS


Figure 15. Financial aid students, according to location zones GSE ABC1, and Isocrona influence area within Minutes travel from the university.


It is important that the university develops a necessary policy to improve the conditions of the university neighboring areas that holds its students with greater social needs, captive to the surrounding areas because of closeness to the university welfare networks, but the urban growth dynamic and increasing land value and economic value by the accessible central territory has portraits the progressive invasion process that will end up transforming the university neighborhood into central activities center that metropolitan growth demands before the university internal policies help its students related to this issue. One of the consequences of this study is to show this change dynamics within the university surroundings and its so called “university neighborhood” that tend to build more effective relationship with the campus and the urban surroundings from the students mobility experience.



For each travel hour 10 years ago due to today’s’ profuse accessibility generation 34 kilometers more are traveled, clearly more territory and this has interrelations benefits and vital developments for the country, but it also changes different urban environments, specially those that deal with its inhabitants daily mobility, specifically with a mobile community as Universidad Tecnica Santa Maria university students are.

The university from its start evolved from a cloister like unit, self sufficient to the services externalization incorporating students’ residence within the campus buildings to the city or metropolitan housing offer. The main campus has 7,800 students on España Avenue in Valparaiso and has 11% of the region university students’ enrolment and not only brings students from neighboring cities, but its prestige brings students from all over the country.

If the physical infrastructure extends and reaches a greater territory, the study data shows that 5% of the students travel over 50 kilometers, that in relative terms (travel time) that is around 20 to 25 proximity. Students from Quillota, San Felipe, Los Andes, Quinteros, Limache and Calera among others that still live in their homes, that 10 years ago was impossible. The regional and community mobility increase starts to draw the growing externalized residential students model not only within the urban and metropolitan context but also regional.

The university main campus by its location in central Valparaiso and Viña del Mar as España Avenue is the main metropolitan axis articulator, (España Avenue/Cuarta Etapa/Troncal Sur), sets the daily mobility patterns of the urban area. As its students start spreading their residential location in the inland metropolitan urban area, farther from its immediate surroundings as the accessibility conditions allow it. Also, the students with permanent residence travel each day more than before from inland cities (250.000 inhabitants) where most of the inhabitants profile is middle class young population, according to the study the inland cities concentrate the system’s vitality as holds its middle class, especially C3 group.

Linked to the mobility patterns of urban corridors and existing services centralities, there is a residential location pattern strongly dependent in university welfare for some of its students. Those students dependent on food and housing welfare that live near the university; 90% Los Placeres Hill and 10% in central Valparaiso and Viña. Those who have only financial aid have a more disperse pattern within the whole metropolitan spectrum, linked to traditional university students’ residential urban offer such as “University Homes” (rooms in households). Finally, those students of higher income tend to locate with the isochronal curve, 30 minutes influence travel and in the most expensive real estate housing offer. Apartments that in summer are tourist costal border residential offer area related to Plan Viña, Costal Border, Agua Santa-Recreo and towards North, Reñaca-Con Con.

This proves the hypothesis that university students’ descentralized residential pattern towards Gran Valparaiso follows the real estate second house offer pattern, at least in Viña de Mar’s case. Valparaiso’s case the tendency proves that new density housing (new housing solutions) in the Plan and emerging in Valparaiso Alto as in Placeres Hill that has the best conditions as they are old houses from the turn of the 20th century which are spacious and very well located.

Even though the university main campus is located within Valparaiso metropolitan center, it is an advantage from the accessibility point of view, with the gradual real estate buildings development in every center where the most of the low income students are, transforming it into a “changeable surrounding” for the university. Higher cost services or residence gradually push away the center’s residential activity (figure 4-12 shows this new trend), due to the fact the land with better access and centrality have a sustained value rise, so it is predictable that residential areas around campus is going to be more expensive each year, so the students’ residential location in that area will gradually disappeared pushing the students to farther distances and longer travel time.

The data shows that some students from the university main campus still move around the isochronal curve of 30 minutes and many of them have their own vehicles to access to the university, so their quality of life in proximity still depends on urban cohesion that still is possible to support, though for how much longer can this cohesion be kept?

The increasing 1.3% annually rate enrolment of first year college students’ therefore national university assistant and support to these students extends to the cities that have greater impact for their residential, food, entertainment, health needs and requires an adequate transport system to support the “mobility explosion”, key to the metropolitan problems. It is then needed university policies that anticipate the changes, although the data shows that only 5% of the students live out side Gran Valparaiso, measures as proximity buses or mobility financial aid maybe can wait, but policies that address improving the neighboring areas that holds the university low income students, captive by the university welfare network system that these students need to survive are essential.

One of main consequences of this study is to pay attention to urban changes dynamic from the mobile community perspective from an specific group such as the university students. The relationships between the urban metropolitan context offers where the university is located with the university students daily mobility patterns according to the socio-economic stratum that allows to clearly characterizing and configurate a territory.



1 This preliminary article is the result of an on going investigation within the framework of Concurso de Fondos de Investigación 2008, de la Dirección General de Investigación y Postgrado de la Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, en la Línea de Territorio y Gestión del Departamento de Arquitectura (Universidad Tecnica Federico Santa Maria grant).

5 MIRALLES-GUASH, 2002, pages.41-42

6 The viability concept is related to the conditions that the street or road use to travel has. (MIRALLES-GUASH, 2002, pág.27-44

7 ASCHER Francois, 2004, pages. 352-353.

8 ASCHER Francois, 2004, pages. 358-359.

9 HALL Peter (2000). Page. 23.

10 SECTRA North zone, 2000

11 SERVIU MIMVU, Plan de Desarrollo Urbano Regional Valparaiso [Regional Valparaiso Urban Development Plan], V Region.



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Received: 28.11.08
Accepted: 23.03.09