The chosen site was small, 1,000 square meters, but it had remarkable urban conditions. It was situated in the crossing of a major street and a city highway, between a police station and a consolidated square, in front of two gas stations and near several companies and sites of industrial production. It also had appropriate infrastructure on all sides, meaning houses could be organized without taking into account the new or future street paving or sewage for example. However, a restricted swath of land running alongside an old canal on the west side of the site drastically reduced the original surface of the land, leaving only 24 meters between streets.
To house the 30 families, we proposed a variation of the Iquique typology where a 6 meters wide house had a 6 meters wide duplex apartment on top. The ground floor house had a 12 meters deep patio to compensate for the smaller front (in Iquique the house was 9 meter wide and the courtyard 9 meters deep). Both units, as in Iquique, had individual access: the house from the street and the apartments through independent stairs. A reinforced concrete slab acted as a horizontal dividing wall separating the two units. Under the slab, the house projected into the patio where we defined a laundry zone ensuring the future existence of a light well for illumination and ventilation. Above the slab, the apartment consisted of an initial area of 3 x 6 meters in two stories and a void between units with the same dimensions designated for future growth. Given that in Santiago rains during the winter, we designed a continuous roof covering the whole building.
The project began in November 2006. The real estate developer and builder, Simonetti, traditionally working for the upper class in Chile, took charge of construction as part of its social responsibility policy and with it brought unprecedented good construction standards to the social housing area. The families applied for new subsidies for the construction of their expansions and solicited the contractor to stay longer to add the new rooms. The homes were handed over to the families in December of 2007 in a ceremony presided over by the President of the Republic, Michelle Bachelet.
The importance of this project is proving that it was possible to make successful projects in small, narrow sites, of which there were many in Santiago. We were also able to achieve a density of 900 inhabitants per hectare, without overcrowding, with houses and apartments expandable up to 72 square meter, augmenting the range of sites we were able to access.