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Participatory Architecture

La Memoria de la Vertiente

ARCHITECTURE, CITIZENSHIP & LEARNING
 

REVIVING AN ABANDONED SPACE TOGETHER WITH THE COMMUNITY  / / / / / / / / / / 

Última Hora Neighbourhood Organisation,
Barrio La Pincoya, HUECHURABA, SANTIAGO
START: AUGUST 2018
CONTEXT OF THE PROJECT

Among its projects, the SERVIU Metropolitano is engaging with the Aldea Foundation to roll out a pilot programme for the recuperation of an uninhabitable territory. With the active participation of the community, these abandoned spaces which usually generate negative impacts are being converted via co-design and co-construction processes into public spaces, to serve the needs and aspirations of the community.

 

After two months of site visits, meetings with the board of the Junta de Vecinos (JJVV), SERVIU, the municipality of Huechuraba and research on the territory via official sources, we could outline a proposal following a participatory methodology which focuses on the re-activation of this public space, linked to the history and culture of the residents of the neighbourhood. Through a process in which the community actively takes part, informing about the issues and decisions which they are affected by, they can form their own judgement and express openly their opinion, being listened to and reaching decisions in respect to the future of the territory.

 

This participatory proposal was presented and validated by the community in the first informative assembly what helped to more closely define the opportunities and problems reported by the neighbours of the area.

 

Furthermore, it is important to point out that between every assembly a series of bilateral meetings of local and private actors took place, which expanded the impact of the intervention.  

HISTORY

The neighbourhood of La Pincoya is a symbol for community self-organisation in pursuit of decent housing conditions, a movement which has existed since the sixties in an area combining operation sites, seizure of land and collective purchases of dwellers “without home”. The Última Hora neighbourhood is one of the neighbourhoods established over time through a permanent effort and struggle. An important part of the identity and culture of this neighbourhood is found in the site to be intervened. The existing watershed was the source of life for the families occupying the territory. It gave them a foundation for employment, recreation and fun for children.

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“We got here in the 1970's’. We didn’t have any water or electricity, nothing. There were all sorts of trees: avocado and fig trees; we made a queue of 200 people, sometimes we woke up in it… but it was a nice thing, when we had electricity and water, there was heaps of water running in the watershed, and now that it’s not running anymore, the hillside has tried out. (Local resident)

With time passing, “the memory of the hillside” was being lost, resulting in its disuse and forgotten status:

 

“Just like that - we used to be closer, but when we finally had our houses it stopped - we closed our doors and didn’t even say good night. Before that, we worked together with the neighbours for the common good. To a lot of youngsters, their parents didn’t tell the story [of the hillside, but now due to our good friend Patricia (president of the neighbourhood organisation), who knows the story because her parents told her, we again started to come together.” (Local resident)

ACTIVITIES

By now, the key accomplished shared milestones were: 

1. Participatory diagnosis workshop which enabled the community to identify the diversity of the spaces in their neighbourhood and categorise them: The more conflictive ones, the more relevant ones, the most used one and for whom it was useful; the spaces used for entertainment, spaces for coming together and getting organised, green spaces, etc. Through this collective mapping of areas and their specific relevance, all of the strengths, shortcomings, expectations and common wishes were identified, and above all, opportunities and preliminary proposals for the project were agreed on.

 

2. Participatory walk on the hillside, with self selected representatives together with technical experts of the SERVIU. In this activity we visualised the preliminary propositions which helped us to improve and alter them, to erase contradictions and difficulties and at the same time to provide breathing space for the living memory of the inhabitants through their personal stories..

 

3. Design Workshop, an occasion where a synthesis of the participatory diagnosis was presented, in order to further prioritise the plans for usage and elaborate a draft in the group to identify and establish the general guidelines of the project, determining specific areas and designing spaces.

IN PROGRESS…

The project is in progress. Right now it is being worked on:

- An educational workshop for children; opportunity to introduce the local children about the importance of public spaces, and the relevance of inhabiting them, in addition to co-designing and constructing them. We also want to understand their vision for the environment they live in and what are their needs and aspirations.

 

- Together with SERVIU, Aldea is designing and evaluating the draft design which will be presented in the meeting of the 19th of October.

 

- Planning of the participatory construction and management of private actors with the aim the raise additional resources for the project.

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