Incremental housing: harnessing informality at Villa Verde
AuthorO'Brien, D; Carrasco, S; Dovey, K
PublisherEMERALD GROUP PUBLISHING LTD
AffiliationArchitecture, Building and Planning
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsO'Brien, D., Carrasco, S. & Dovey, K. (2020). Incremental housing: harnessing informality at Villa Verde. ARCHNET-IJAR INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ARCHITECTURAL RESEARCH, 14 (3), pp.345-358. https://doi.org/10.1108/ARCH-10-2019-0237.
Access StatusAccess this item via the Open Access location
Open Access URLPublished version
Purpose This paper analyses the incremental housing process developed at Villa Verde, a housing project designed by the Chilean architecture firm Elemental, whose director Alejandro Aravena received the Pritzker Prize in 2016. This project is conceived within a social housing framework and designed as an affordable “half-house” to be incrementally extended by the owners. Design/methodology/approach This paper is based on research undertaken in August 2017 with data obtained through site surveys, trace analysis, interviews with 32 residents and photographic surveys. The researchers mapped the modifications made by all households at Villa Verde in the four years after occupation. Findings The strategy of designing a formal framework for informal additions has generally been successful with most houses undergoing substantial expansion to a high standard of construction. The paper raises concerns regarding the settlement's urban design, response to local climate and the quality of shared open space. We also find evidence of over-development as informal additions extend across front and rear yards that are in some cases fully enclosed. Originality/value This project is critiqued within the context of a long series of architectural attempts to harness the productive capacities of self-help housing. Villa Verde engages the freedom to build in a self-organised manner within a formal framework. But what will stop these additions from escalating into a “slum”?
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