Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.Arch.

Degree Granting Department

Architecture

Major Professor

Vikas Mehta, Ph.D.

Keywords

Migrant encampments, Low income, Mountainous architecture, Peru, Social housing

Abstract

Every year hundreds of people migrate from the highlands of Peru to the coastal capital of Lima searching for economic and social stability. These groups of people have similar characteristics that keep them together they come from the same city, are members of the same family, have the same religion, have similar goals, and so on. Once in Lima they take possession of the only free areas left in the city: the mountains. Due to a lack of economic resources, poor urban planning and unsuitable site conditions the settlements grow for years in a disorderly, unsafe and unsanitary way, creating dangerous conditions for themselves and for the neighboring communities. The Private Bank of Materials and the government's overdue efforts to fix these neighborhoods by reinforcing the retaining walls, building roads, planting trees, or connecting utility services do not address at a neighborhood reorganization strategy but rather a "face lift" of the existing housing units.

This thesis aims to come up with an early response to the housing problem focusing on the design of a self-sustaining neighborhood organization where the housing structure complements the social public spaces. By organizing the urban fabric in a way that the neighborhood accommodates the density needed to keep the cost low, as well as provide the necessary gathering spaces, a richer social environment can be developed. This reorganization considers the residents' socio-cultural characteristics, public spaces, dwelling, flexible program, urban integration, and the site's topography. During the research, I lived with the community for two weeks, analyzing the existing public realm and its surrounding neighborhoods focusing on their gathering spaces. These studies included visual information and interviews documented through a journal, photographs, and videos all focused on residents' social behavior.

I visited and analyzed similar housing projects emphasizing the flexibility of their programs. I also looked at affordable construction methods in order to select the most appropriate to implement on site. The engineer Jose Pelaez (Florida department of Transportation) guided my project in its geographical aspect so that it became feasible. These studies lead to the development of an organizational system that creates a community focused on social interaction.

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