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Vivienda Social en La Florida, Santiago

Izquierdo Lehmann Architects

Santiago de Chile, Metropolitan Region., Chile

January 2023


Luis Izquierdo Wachholtz (Architect)


José Manuel Gálvez Muñoz (Architect)




Roland Halbe


The projected idea synthesizes multiple aims under a complex set of rules, that should be met with a minimum cost. The first aim explicitly committed was to use the full density allowed for the plot, with a number of 48 apartments of 57 sq. meters each, that should meet the standard requirements for social housing funded by the state within a total building budget of USD 41.600. Besides limiting the maximum density, gross area and building height to 4 stories within determined setbacks, the urban codes demanded one parking lot per housing unit, plus many other minor restrictions. The standards for the housing units included several rooms complying with minimum dimensions: a living, dining and kitchen room, a main bedroom, two secondary bedrooms, one for two beds and the other for one bed, and a bathroom. As the size of the units is small, the importance of extending the living premises to a community place increases. So, with no extra cost, we devised a central planted courtyard as a common living place shared by all private units, flanked by corridors that access the superposed duplex housing units, with staircases at both ends of these parallel blocks. But, a wrong interpretation of a rule by the state authority obliged us to give a direct entrance to each unit and to fill the empty space of the courtyard with many extra staircases. Then, the challenge of the project became to make those stairways as transparent, light and economic as possible.


This is a social housing project for a community of 48 families, previously assigned by a State department, built in a 2.401 m2 plot, well located at the corner of a main street with a park along the border of a channel, at the Municipality of La Florida of the Metropolitan District of Santiago. It includes apartments of 57 m2 each plus 48 parking lots (placed below the 4 stories apartment blocks) and a playground, with a total building cost of USD41.600, that is, USD730 per m2. The existing neighborhood consists mainly of single family houses, but new high rise housing developments are beginning to appear not far away. This project brings a transitional densification with a medium height and a small number of apartments, for a community of acquainted families sharing a courtyard that is a common and safe living place, as an entrance and extension of their scarce private premises. This courtyard is formed by two parallel blocks that include all the 48 apartments in rows of 12 superposed and double oriented duplex units along its northern and southern borders, leaving its west side open to the view of the city that extends downwards, and its east side to the view of the near Andes mountain range. The gentle slope of the site allowed for different pedestrian and vehicular entries, the first at the upper corner with the park along the channel and the second at the lower part of the street, at the basement level.


This project has fulfilled and exceeded the user´s expectations, as they happily say and is manifest in the care they have for it, especially of its courtyard and common premises. The community is well organized, able to share and keep their own building, of which they feel proud, and also able to engage with their neighborhood. The interior furnishings of each apartment have been well completed, according to the original floor plans, respecting and maintaining the exterior façades and common facilities. We thus expect that this project increases its value in time. Besides the architectural design issues and good urban location, the small number of families involved in this community guarantees its actual success, specially when having been previously acquainted in their former precarious neighborhood while waiting a long time for this social housing project to be built for them. Concerning specific architectural issues, our main criteria was to prioritize efficiency of design, constructability and durability, with affordable materials that need low maintenance, such as exposed concrete and steel, in order to attain more with less, and be sustainable.

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