DOI 10.4067/S0718-83582016000100001


Rural housing, proper technologies, residential segregation and commercial gentrification


Gustavo Carrasco Pérez1

Revista INVI celebrates its 30th anniversary of uninterrupted publication in October this year. Created as Boletin, this regularly published journal issued by the Housing Institute at the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Chile, was initially intended to disseminate and position the issue of housing at a national level and promote the work of the Institute in this field.

Notwithstanding this journal evolved and grew not only in volume and design, but also in terms of content, thus coining the phrase “Residential Habitat” as a focus developed by the Housing Institute to address the analysis of a thematic area that can be referred to as “the place where people live.”

The process evolved in the content of this Journal, which initially focused on social housing and housing issues and eventually evolved into the addressing of problems related to the study and understanding of different phenomena that affect the configuration and development of the residential habitat, also reveals the process experienced by the Housing Institute in the fields of research, teaching and dissemination.

This issue offers six papers and a piece of opinion that focus on different phenomena affecting the configuration and development of residential habitat. Almost all of these contributions deal with aspects associated with public actions or policies, the role of the State and the role of the market within a neoliberal context and the segregation of the population. Interestingly, these papers reveal different cases or situations from different realities, such as those of Chile, Argentina and Spain.

This issue begins with the paper entitled “Victims of Post-Earthquake Reconstruction. Consequences on the Rural Habitat of Maule”, which is co-written by Stefano Micheletti and Francisco Letelier Troncoso. As the abstract of this contribution points out, “following the earthquake and tsunami that occurred on February 27, 2010, the reconstruction policy implemented by the Chilean government favored a process led by private actors and offered standard urban-oriented solutions for all affected territories.” This paper also reads “reconstruction programs have adopted a neoliberal approach, favoring the emergence of a real estate market focused on the replacement of dwellings rather than on the provision of quality solutions for victims and their neighborhoods.” The authors conclude that “considering that the State delegated the provision of housing solutions to the real estate market, the alternatives for affected families were restricted to the provision of prefabricated dwellings and self-help construction (a measure that was based on standard models which had a limited impact.) The modification of the housing typology had a negative effect on the identity and traditional aspect of different towns since this is a central element of rural life, which is a space where culture and function converge.”

Xenia Fuster Farfán in her paper “The Historical Debt of Social Housing Policies: Territorial Relevance. The Case of the Habitability Program, Chile” stresses “the importance of the social, cultural and territorial particularities that should be included in the social intervention agenda of the Habitability Program —a program overseen by the Ministry of Social Development. The inclusion of these dimensions is intended to contribute methodological differentiation and so improving the impact and sustainability of this Program and the quality of life of target families.” In fact, it is suggested that “the limitations and implementation of social policies are related to two particular elements that justify this issue: the first of these elements refers to the operation of the State, which is governed by centralized and universal regulations and the evaluation of actions based on the legality of the process rather than on the effective results and impacts of these initiatives. On the other hand, the second element is associated with the formation of policies, which are supposed to benefit a homogenized target population, the result being the emergence of implementation issues that are immediately addressed without paying attention to the systematization and assessment of these processes.”

The third paper, co-authored by Graciela Melisa Viegas, Carolina Walsh and María Victoria Barros addresses the “Qualitative and Quantitative Evaluation of Alternative Thermal Insulation. The Case of Family-Based Farming.” In this contribution the authors refer to the situation of family-based farmers in Greater La Plata and Berazategui, both located in the Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. As the abstract of this paper points out, these farmers “are conditioned by their position of leaseholders of land by which they live and work and by their fragile economic-productive situation.” Such a condition is translated into low investment on the part of families as far as the configuration of habitat is concerned, which leads to poor living conditions. This paper discusses the experiences of two university outreach projects supported by the National University of La Plata. In conjunction with families, these programs are intended to generate different proposals and housing improvement initiatives through the research of alternative insulation materials and systems derived from recycled or natural sources.

The fourth contribution, entitled “Social Housing in Cordoba, Consequences on Residential Segregation and Urban Growth (1991-2008)” co-written by María Cecilia Marengo and Ana Laura Elorza, analyses the “My House, My Life” program, the “12,000 Houses” program and the role of the State in the production and reproduction of residential segregation over the 1991-2008 period. This paper reveals the relationship between these policies and the location of housing developments as well as the effect of such a relationship on the growth of the city and the consequences on the evolution of residential segregation. These public housing policies are conditioned to the value of urban land and budgetary constraints, a situation that is common to most of Latin American cities.

The fifth paper, entitled “Urban Segregation in Spain: Gated Communities in Valencia and Seville” and co-authored by Arsenio Villar Lama and Miguel García Martín discusses the case of gated communities in the cities of Valencia and Seville, Spain, and refers to them as ongoing realities. Such a situation has led to the emergence of new ways of urban segregation that exacerbates physical and social segregation, thus affecting the morphology of the city and the use and quality of public spaces which, in turn, modifies individual and collective behaviors.

The sixth contribution, “Transformation of Municipal Markets in Madrid. From a Consumption Environment to a Leisure Environment”, written by Luis Salinas Arreortua, addresses the gentrification process in Madrid through the analysis of the San Anton and Los Mostenses markets. It is interesting to observe the approach used by this author to study such a process, which is not based on residential aspects but on the analysis of trading activities according to the transformations observed in different municipal markets located in the city of Madrid. In these markets, traditional trading activities have been replaced by tourist trade and the production of goods targeted towards higher-income groups from other areas of the city. This generates a dynamic referred to by the author as neoliberal. In some cases, commercial gentrification may lead to the emergence of residential gentrification.

Finally, this issue of Revista INVI offers an opinion article written by Juan Blanco Moya entitled “Towards the Design and Management of Sustainable Neighborhoods in Chile.” In this section the author suggests the need to rethink of urban systems from an integrating perspective derived from academic ecology. The latter is related to a local context in which the strong development experienced by the real estate market and the production of housing favors a growth pattern that promotes the expansion of urban land, the loss of agricultural land, social segregation and an increase in the consumption of energy and materials.


1 Chile. Architect, academic at the Housing Institute, Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Chile.