Multi-family Social Housing

ORGANIZATION NAME: Simón Vélez Studio

LOCATION: Colombia

SUMMARY: Objective: to develop an alternative solution to social housing here in Colombia while fostering a greener (more vegetarian and less mineral) construction industry. We aim to integrate more the agriculture industry (especially bamboo and engineered bamboo products) in the construction industry, while simultaneously promoting higher standards for social housing design.

PROBLEM SPACE: "Construction in concrete as conceived in the third world produces cavernous spaces: a cave has a stone floor, stone walls and a stone roof. We do not come from caves, we are dwellers, we come from the trees and we are men of the treetops, even if we do now live in caves. Current architecture follows an exaggerated and unhealthy regimen. It is totally carnivorous. The state of nature demands that we come back to a more balanced, more vegetarian state.

Social housing is one of the deepest felt needs in Colombia. Not only is there a housing deficit but the current standards for social housing are subpar. Undersized cement box housing structures with simple asbestos roofing (absurdly, still legal to produce here in Colombia) form residential ghettos. They are poorly planned, deteriorated and unsafe. The oversimplification of the housing problem and the proliferation of mineral architecture (overuse of concrete, drywall, asbestos roofing/ceiling) as well as the purposeful rejection of vernacular architecture and local culture, is an unhealthy and unfortunately dominant approach to building here in the tropics. The high economic and social costs generated by low quality housing are very real dangers felt by the wider society."

SOLUTION: Visiting the poorer neighborhoods of the cities you see interesting spontaneous and illegal constructions. They start as invasions promoted by left wing politicians who are only looking to get rich. They rezone rural land into urban land before any design for services and infrastructure. The new inhabitants take possession of the terrain and they inhabit them with their numerous families. In less than one week they create habitable spaces with cardboard boxes, cans and wood. The width of the building side facing the street is never more than 6 meters, and the depth is usually between 10 and 12 meters. They respect an area for a road that may or may not one day have services of water, sewage system and electricity. If they have luck it will be paved. Within five years all of these lots have little buildings of 4 or 5 stories, with each story being slightly bigger (about 30 centimeters) than the one underneath.These constructions are of concrete and brick and made without any respect to the norms of seismic resistance in Colombia building code. When we have a large earthquake, the tragedy will be apocalyptic. With our social housing prototype of 4 stories, we try to made a scaleable model of mix material and composite construction using concrete, steel, bamboo culms and laminated bamboo, and clay tile artisanal roof that creates a safety against earthquakes and fires. The small buildings of the 4 stories will be always be free standing and separated from all four sides. I invite you to see the attachments to this application where we demonstrate visualizations and technical drawings of the first iteration of the building prototype.

CONTACT: [email protected]

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