Elisabeth Arnold (2019)


The rationalities of social housing construction in Santiago del Estero, Argentina


In Argentina, 92 % of the population lives in cities (CIA 2019). Due to the continuous growth of cities and an insufficient supply of housing matching a minimum standard, the priority of housing policies has been for several decades to systematically reduce this deficit. One of the national strategies was and still is direct property oriented social housing construction. As the demand for it is high, the creation of modest living spaces – standardized one or two family housing typologies situated in the outskirts of urban agglomeration in a timely and cost-effective manner – has been the habitual way of meeting those needs since the early 2000s. Big housing projects, financed by national funds, have been executed by Provincial Housing Institutes, leaving municipalities and local authorities without any say in significant urban growth processes and land consumption.

Looking at this practice of housing politics and urban planning, the rationalities behind official production of urban space, the tension between the national and the local scale, the public and the private and the quality of urban development areas are crucial points of interest in order to answer the research question: What are the rationalities behind social housing construction in Santiago del Estero, Argentina?

The central subject of this thesis is a specific neighborhood in Santiago del Estero, a town of intermediate size with about 300.000 inhabitants in central-north Argentina. ‘Barrio Siglo XXI‘, finished in 2012, exemplifies the specific spatial phenomenon of social housing mass construction that this research will focus on. The embedding in Latin American urban development theory and a retrospective of Argentina’s previous housing policies shall allow to contextualize the phenomenon and reveal parallels and changes in urban space production. Through applying tools of systems theory, housing policies on a national level have been critically explored. Empirical findings gained through observations and qualitative interviews have generated knowledge on the scale of the city of Santiago del Estero as well as on the micro scale of the specific neighborhood. By connecting those scales, the abstract and the concrete, five predominant rationalities of space production have been defined, that shape current social housing areas in Santiago del Estero.

Submitted   at the Faculty of Architecture and Planning
Supervision   Dr. phil. DI (FH) Sabine Knierbein