Norman Foster Foundation Cities: Affordable Housing Workshop 2022

Page 34 Alejandro Aravena during his seminar, pictured at the Norman Foster Foundation’s library Alejandro Aravena began his seminar by identifying what he named ‘the 3S menace’— scale, speed and scarcity of means, as the main cause behind the affordable housing crisis. As he exposed, oftentimes, the number of resources and timeframes that are provided by the funding governments are insufficient to promote efficient solutions to this pressing crisis. Architects can only work with ‘affordability’ as the type of buildings that are resultant from these conditions cannot even be called a house. To be able to fill the gap of housing demand, Aravena has come up with an Affordable Supra-Structure to ignite the process of providing housing to the population in need. This Unit of Basic Services, as Aravena calls it, consists on building the parts of the house that require more technical knowledge and leaving the structure for the rest of the house to be built on account of the owners. Aravena explained how this model breaks the cycle of affordable housing losing its value when bought; with this scheme the houses increased the value and became, not only a protection against the climate, but a tool to overcome poverty. Through different examples, Aravena explained the reasons behind slums always appearing next to cities and why creating satellite cities of affordable housing does not seem to be a good solution. As he explained, people are willing to give up on life quality to be near opportunities, jobs, schools, healthcare. Aravena then made an exercise on the importance of the different models and the practice of distributing the land in the most efficient way, taking in consideration that these houses will expand. To conclude, Aravena emphasised the importance of facts in making a successful model. For instance, he broke down, a family can live reasonably well in 80m2. However, the budget that his practice was given allowed them to solely build 40m2. This ‘half-good house’ left, however, the path for the owners to build it properly and safely. As he stated, cities reflect societies, particularly in developing countries, so setting the correct rules of play and promoting the participation of the people architecture could achieve great results. From Emergency Housing to the Housing Emergency Alejandro Aravena 2022 Cities: Affordable Housing Workshop Contents Report