Juan Cerda, Victor Oddó, and Diego Torres), 2003, as featured in the exhibition catalogue of Broken Nature, The XXII Triennale di Milano.

Tasked by the Chilean government to settle a hundred families in 5,000 square metres, Elemental (Chile, est. 2001) championed an approach to designing social housing that they described as “incremental”.

The aim was to resettle people on the same site they had illegally occupied for decades instead of relocating them far away from the work opportunities, adequate transportation, and better schools, while at the same time overcoming established cycles of poverty and urban inequity. With very limited financial backing to achieve neighbourhoods with proper living conditions, the architects used government funds to design “half a good house”, leaving it to residents to expand incrementally as individual resources allow. In this sense, the project created a positive feedback loop that could shift the government’s prejudice about social housing as a burden, and instead cast it as a valuable investment both economically and socially.

So... is this getting serious?

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