Housing in the souths of the world

Margarita Greene

School of Architecture, CEDEUS,

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile



There are three perspectives regarding housing that I would like to refer to at this moment, finishing with a short reflection on how to advance towards urban sustainability. Although each of them affects our countries in different ways, they share common factors that allow us to talk about the “souths of the world” as one Mega Region.


The first is Housing beyond the House. In this part I would refer to how a residential area requires urban services and equipment that go beyond the plot, house or flat. In this sense, it is important to consider aspects such as accessibility: while the city offers the benefits of richer opportunities (in economic, social and cultural terms), if the house does not have a proper accessibility to the rest of the urban amenities these opportunities will be unreachable. On the other hand, to provide the services that must accompany the dwelling, and that allow for an adequate urban quality of life, it is necessary to consider multiple stakeholders from both the public and private sectors. Finally, in this section I would like to refer to the mobilization of resources required for providing adequate housing.


The second regards Demography and Social Context, where I would give an overview of the demographic transition in relation to countries’ development, and also of the family and household transitions (changes in households and families composition), as well as the spatial transition (urbanization). This subject leads directly to the issues of immigrants, special groups’ needs (the elderly, children) and cultural changes that may have enormous impacts on housing and residential areas.


The third subject will approach Informality and Incrementality. One problem in the last century has been the generation and increase of informal settlements, which do not provide minimum conditions for families or communities to develop a healthy and enriching quality of life. The formal approach will be analysed, showing how it has changed from ‘slums are a problem’ to ‘slums are part of the solution’. This has led to the incremental approach to housing, which can be understood as a basic self-made house to the improvement of neighbourhoods and social consolidation.


Finally, I would like to approach the sustainability perspective and how it affects the morphology of the urban realm (i.e., compact city versus sprawl), the mobility patterns (active mobility and public transport vs cars), and the aim of diversity in function (combining residential, commerce, work sources) and social groups (among rich and poor, young and old, etc.). In the Chilean case and in most of Latin America a main problem in urban development has been segregation, and nowadays there is much effort involved in integration strategies to overcome it.