Friday, October 17, 2008

Chile. Lo Espejo

Duplexes with expansion zones
Lo Espejo was the second completed ELEMENTAL project. The community was living in a campamento (squatted and shabby housing of minimal materials) near the location of the new project in Santiago. Once again, ELEMENTAL proposed building half the house, and allowing a
Typical housing in the neighborhood
good bit of freedom for customization and such. After working closely with the community, ELEMENTAL proposed two schemes and the community agreed and selected one. Because Santiago has a much rainier climate, the roof over the entire project had to be built first. This project differed with Quinta Monroy in the fact that the government essentially funded the additions, and the homes were able to be completely built out at the beginning.
Johana, in front of her ´perfect´houseI spoke with Johana, one of the community leaders. After taking the bus all over town and finally finding the project, I was early and decided to draw a bit and wander around the neighborhood. Not always the best idea, but no problems here. As I returned to the project, there was a woman out on the street, standing there with her hands on her hips, (it almost looked like she was tapping her foot) looking at me. “Lucas?” she asked with the biggest smile ever. It was pretty obvious I was the guy from the US. But, she instantly welcomed me into her home and spoke with such passion and fervor about the project, and housing. She was completely enthralled with her place. She said she wouldn’t change a thing. Most of the customization and changes within this project was cosmetic. You could finish your inside however you wanted. Most people had added tiles and paint and their own interior flavor. Additionally, on the outside, one could change out the window and such.
Johana´s bottom floor
I also visited Monica Vargas’s bottom unit. Three rooms were added in the back before they moved in. She was able to remove one of the walls in the living room to open it up to a larger space.
Monica´s before and after
Monica´s Changes
Again, this project was very much initiated by the community itself and the strong community leaders (women.). But, ELEMENTAL basically was able to get involved right in the beginning, and provide the legimitacy and ability to negotiate the many different realms to pull yet another project off. And it has paid off. Johanna is ecstatic. She was wonderful. She has pictures on her wall sitting next to Michelle Blanchelette during the inauguration. While I was there, a Chilean newspaper was calling to interview her about the project.
Check out more essential details here.

The window zone on the facade is malleable

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great article, good to see the involvement of the community and dedicated architects. I remember growing up with scandals of poorly built low income housing that collapsed with rains in Santiago.

Just FYI, her name is Michelle Bachelet.