Atlas of Negotiated Typologies – Ingenious Alternatives to Planned Urban Development

The Atlas of Negotiated Typologies is a research project engaging ingenious alternatives to planned urban development and recording the unique typologies of buildings and shared spaces which individuals, families and communities are constructing for themselves in urban villages as well as in territories of informal urbanisation. title

Rapid urban development and global economies come at a risk of displacing local building typologies that are inseparable from cultural heritage, collective memories and social rules governing lived space. Our research respects, records and endeavours to comprehend the diversity of communities, the sophistication of social spaces they have constructed, and the ingenuity of differentiated responses to a wide array of cultural, social, territorial, climatic, material and technological parameters.

The project team, comprising of Christoph Lueder of the School of Architecture + Landscape, Kingston University, Alexandru Malaescu and Iulia Fratila, collaborate with local academic and community partners. Previous collaborations include: Arini Creative Platforms, Amman, Jordan, Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University Bangkok, Thailand, Prof. Preechaya Sittipunt, Director INDA International Program in Design and Architecture, and Bharati Vidyapeeth College of Architecture, Navi Mumbai, India, Prof. Ritu Deshmukh, Vice Principal.  Click to read blog reports.

In March 2015 the Atlas of Negotiated Typologies team traveled to Chile for a collaboration with the Universidad Católica in Santiago. Alex, Christoph and Iulia joined forces with Armando Caroca, Prof. Rodrigo Tapia and Prof. Cristhian Figueroa for field research on Poblacion Centenario, a community located in the northwest of central Santiago which has largely maintained single level housing typology, but has come under pressure from rising land values and urban
densification.  santiago

Kingston University team in collaboration with the students and staff of Universidad Católica, Santiago.

Poblacion Centenario, Santiago

Poblacion Centenario was founded in 1903 as a housing project for police officers and their families. At that time, it largely drew on two typologies only, one of which is 4 meters wide and organises spaces in an ensuite sequence, the other, with a width of 5 meters, incorporates a corridor. Since then, the original typologies have been overlaid with multiple layers of alterations by their inhabitants, such as the addition of mezzanine levels, the joining of adjacent row houses or the linking of the small patio to enclose additional living space.

The students observed, interviewed, sketched and mapped layers of in-habitation and self-construction that have accrued over time, aiming to understand the strategies and means which the residents employed to adapt their spaces to changing needs.  The work concluded with a public presentation and review at the Catolica University which invited comments and feedback from jurors Emilio de la Cerda, Director of the Architecture School UC, Elke Schlack Fuhrmann, Professor and Director CMlab UC, Francisco Quintana, Ass. Professor UC, and Andres Ignacio Doyharcabal Ponce, Manager of central Santiago division TECHOsantiago conclusion


In Valparaiso, we embarked on a new collaboration, meeting Andrea Pino Vasquez and Lautaro Ojeda Ledesma for a conversation about their ongoing work with people and communities in the expansive rugged branching hills and ravines that overlook the flat coastal area laid out on a planned grid.  We discovered much common ground, inasmuch as all of us, albeit working in differing cultural contexts and with specific sets of local issues and problems, seek to understand and learn from informal settlements and self-construction at the scales of individual houses, shared spaces and urban structure.drawing


Our work in Valparaiso continued over the next few days, as we proceeded to map in detail an area at Avenida Alemania, between the cerros (hills) el Litre and la Cruz. Benefiting from the trust that Andrea and Lautaro have built over many years of working with local communities, we were able to record the stories and spaces of 12 families living in this area. as well at shared spaces coalescing around 3 steep and long staircases that are the sole means of access for most houses. Over the next weeks, we will review, draw up, and analyse through diagrams the information captured during field work, as part of ongoing work on the Atlas of Negotiated Typologies. villa portals

Upon first visiting Villa Portales, our imagination was instantly captivated by the idealism and optimism still palpable. The architectural practice of Bresciani, Valdés, Castillo, Huidobro (BVCH) designed and built this project in the 1950’s, breaking with a nostalgic vision of the manor houses of centuries past that still prevailed at this time in Chile. They chose to accommodate demographic, political and economic change in a new type of architecture.

Fernando Castillo traced the design of Villa Portales to three basic postulates. Firstly, the scale change of everyday space, or a diversification of spatial scales seeking respond to various urban scales: the macro-measurement of the metropolis, the median measure of housing complex and its immediate context and small measure of close relationships of daily life. Secondly, the occupation of green space as the social capital as opposed to the figure of the subdivision that privatizes the green. The third principle separates vehicular and pedestrian traffic in section, a common trope of Modernism, but here executed with an acute sense of style and exuberance. Dialogues

Photograph: Signora Laura, in her house in Valparaiso in conversation with Andrea Pino

We are particularly interested in the layers of habitation and improvised construction that have since settled on the facades and balconies of Villa Portales’ long housing slabs, a system of small scale improvisation coexisting with the rationalism of its host structure.

“Chile and Valparaiso are unequal societies, too unequal. The people of the campamentos are entitled to municipal infrastructure, yet often unable to prevail in the legal struggle.” – Source: Andrea Pino Vasquez, University Federico Santa María, Valparaiso

“La autoconstrucción – that is the solution.” – Source: Lautaro Ojeda Ledesma, University of Valparaíso, in conversation with a group of musicians living in a house off Fresia stairsway, near Avenida Alemania

“Techo starts by looking at reality. We seek to empower people that don’t know they have rights, that don’t have land tenure. After guiding the process of designing and building their own social housing project, we run workshops with communities on construction techniques, building on the knowledge of the people……” – Source: Cristina Carrio, Área Desarrollo de Hábitat, TECHO Chile

“The social housing movement started in the 1960’s with Salvador Allende. With democracy, housing policy came back. Elemental involves private investors to provide value to inhabitants, hygiene, minimum needs. We aim to retain social and employment networks.” – Source: Kim Courreges, ELEMENTAL Chile



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