New forms of residential spaces
The topic selected for this new issue brings us to consider the consequences of the recent real estate crisis, whose consequence was the stoppage of the real estate activity, at least in Spain. This activity just now rebounds, and not in a generalized way, as the crisis didn’t stop only the construction sector. It also left many empty houses waiting for being absorbed by the market. In the other hand, the crisis left the construction sector unarmed, affecting to employment. The professional specialists which have left the sector, after the experience of these years, don’t want to come back and this period has not been used to train those people who were to replace them. The immediate consequence is the lack of people with some knowledge for this new stage.
In this situation, the search of new residential developments, which could also be considered good examples, becomes a difficult task and allows to set out different reflections. The crisis, in addition to the paralysis of the private initiative, had an important effect on the public, which focused more on urban regeneration.
In this period, the demographic component and the difficulty to access to housing by the most disadvantaged groups (young, elderly and immigrant people) were forgotten. This process has caused the increase in the age of emancipation of young people, the increase of the age to have the first son, and consequently, the reduction of the home size. This all cause an imbalance in the groups who will support the retirement of the elder ones. The lack of flexibility of houses also make the elder groups to live in non-adapted houses.
For these groups is difficult to find adequate houses, whether owned or rented at an affordable price. Access to housing is increasingly distant for large population spectra.
In other areas such as South America we can find building of new social housing, sometimes with a high architectural quality, but never enough to satisfy the existing demand and not always in the best place to complete a life project, near to job, education or other services. The demands are focused in mature and recent peripheries, related to security, mobility and education, but also about public space.
The new settlements are so poor qualified for urban life, as they are usually buildings without spaces in contact with streets which make difficult the appearance of proximity shops or activity spaces. These factors limit the possibility to create a network of relations which generate a shared neighbourhood identity and the possibility of social and economic improvements.
Other residential developments which increasingly appear are those derived from emergency situations, whether due to natural disasters such as El Niño in Peru or tsunamis in Japan, or wars, in which the number of refugees and displaced persons affects to an important population that in normal situations would suppose a city and whose basic condition is its provisional nature.
Cities that require basic conditions related to security or infrastructures for water supply, sewage water, waste collection, health care, markets or leisure spaces. Precarious situations that are tried to be solved from the place but that, in the absence of resources, increasingly demand the help of international organizations, be they institutions or NGOs.
The situations mentioned above are not the spontaneous implantations in the peripheries of the cities, where rural-city emigration usually arrives in search of better living conditions, what Doug Saunders defines as “arrival cities”. The objective of this number is to talk about orderly places, whether we understand in common terms an urbanization, spaces to start a new life or transit spaces towards a more stable life.
What is beginning to be appreciated, in many cases, is that the working method is changing: it is no longer the developer or the architect who designs and decides. Increasingly, it is a bottom-up process, in which future inhabitants are supported by technicians making them the decisions. Their opinion is more listened, as they know how they lived and how they want to live, what is needed to be recovered or disposed so they and their relatives live better.
These are repeatable processes that are personalized with the intervention of future users. In meetings with multidisciplinary teams, technicians, sociologists and psychologists, debate not only about the development, its morphology, composition or uses, the assignment of new houses, but also about education, the way of materialization of the project, considering both its physical component, but also the social one. The process wins importance.
Professionals increasingly become managers who even have to take responsibility for the search for resources and financing. Today it is more frequent to see images of these meetings, formal or informal in a corner than of the settlements themselves, their configuration or their homes already finished.
At the other end of these situations are luxury homes, not always stable homes but second homes or tourist homes as a business asset. It is a new niche of the real estate development in selected places, with exceptional landscape, natural, climatic or patrimonial qualities. They are closed and unattainable enclosures for the majority of the population.
In the middle it seems that there is little to tell or offer. The middle classes have seen how their possibility of access to the real estate market has been reduced to the extent that their borrowing capacity and access to credit has been controlled, so they were forgotten by the real estate development, which focused on other sectors: commercial spaces and offices or solvent housing demand.
This issue will be filled with content to the extent that residential proposals are visible, in the present case giving more importance to the processes of conception and implementation than to the built elements. The number begins as usual with three articles that refer to the proposed theme: an urban regeneration project or transformation of use, another reinterpretation of traditional housing typologies and a third one on informal settlements in process of transformation. As always, the Miscellaneous will complete the number with diverse and in some cases singular actions.
|Directora:||María A. Leboreiro Amaro, Dra. Arquitecto. Profesora Titular de la E.T.S. de Arquitectura de Madrid|
|Consejo de redacción:||Miquel Adriá, director de la revista Arquine|
|Carmen Andrés Mateo, Arquitecta. Profesora Asociada de la E.T.S. de Arquitectura de Madrid|
|José Mª Ezquiaga Dominguez. Dr. Arquitecto. Profesor Titular de la E.T.S. de Arquitectura de Madrid|
|José Fariña Tojo. Dr. Arquitecto. Catedrático de la E.T.S. de Arquitectura de Madrid|
|Fernando Fernández Alonso. Arquitecto. Profesor Asociado de la E.T.S. de Arquitectura de Madrid|
|Josep Mª Llop Torne. Arquitecto. Profesor en la Facultad de Geografía de la Universidad de Lleida|
|Javier Ruiz Sánchez. Dr. Arquitecto. Profesor Titular de la E.T.S. de Arquitectura de Madrid|
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