Arquitectura Viva
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
23/05/2014

Cristián Undurraga, Mapuche Social Housing in Huechuraba (Chile)

 
What is most unique about these twenty-five social housing units located outside the city of Santiago is that they were built specially  as accommodations for the Mapuche people. The Mapuches are indigenous inhabitants of the central and southern regions of Chile who are very jealous of their traditions and have integration problems. Unlike other Indian American civilizations, they have never been builders: their temples are not buildings but mountains and rivers, and their dwellings, rukas, are temporary shelters made of tree trunks and branches that are camouflaged in the landscape and wear out with time. This explains the difficulties they have in adapting to modern life, and suggests that the only chance of success of any project having to do with this community is through  participation. The basic scheme of these dwellings is defined in a way that draws on the deep-held beliefs of the Mapuche group. The houses have a shape that recalls the rukas, but they are arranged in a long row whose main facade faces east, thereby complying with the ancestral belief that the main door of a home should look towards the rising sun. Local materials were used: bricks and bamboo lattices. The interior surfaces of the buildings were left without finish, allowing the residents to wrap up the project in accordance with their respective means and tastes.
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