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Prefabricated House

>Prefabricated House

Chile based architectural firm ELEMENTAL has developed a system in which half of each building would be constructed in a first phase – and the other half in a later second phase: allowing residents to incrementally invest in their own homes, made possible through public funding.

Since they first developed the typology for their Quinta Monroy project in Iquique, Chile, the “halffinished home” has become something of a signature for ELEMENTAL: they have used the technique in multiple cities in Chile, as well as their Monterrey Housing project in Mexico.

The typology began life as a way of dealing with extremely low budgets, allowing governments to provide housing to citizens at incredibly low prices, but nevertheless creating homes that would provide for the needs of residents and even gain value over time. Now, they have applied the theory to their Villa Verde Housing project.

At Villa Verde, ELEMENTAL was able to work with a larger budget than they had previously. They were now designing for people who would make use of the upper bracket of Chile’s social housing policy. ELEMENTAL believed “we could have taken one of our own more economic typologies and used the extra money to finish them… but we thought of once again applying the principle of incremental construction and prioritization of the more complex components, this time with higher standards both for the initial and the final scenario.”

This issue was of particular urgency as the company commissioning the project, Arauco, plans to extend this design to around 30 different towns across Chile, all of them with populations of around 10,000–20,000. ELEMENTAL’s research showed that “it is in exactly these types of towns where the worst urban standard is found”, and for this reason they felt it more important to focus on the quality of the building rather than its completeness.