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Half A House in Constitución, Chile



Following a devastating earthquake, the master planner rebuilding Constitución introduced the “Half A House” concept.


After an 8.8 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit the Chilean coastal city of Constitución, Chile in 2010, the town’s built environment was almost entirely destroyed.


Santiago-based architect Alejandro Aravena was called in to help with the reconstruction plans. Known for having a socially conscious response to architectural challenges, Aravena was well-matched for the work at hand.


Given a limited budget and demanding timeline, he proposed the idea for “Half A House” in response to conversations with potential residents. With working class families, there was a strong desire to continue developing their homes. Aravena’s solution was to construct half of a nicer house, leaving the other half for customization when the owner was able to build it out to their desires and specifications.


The design for the homes are simple. Each floor plan is two-stories with a wall down the middle that splits the house in two. One half of the house has a fully built interior that is ready to occupy while the other half is only framing. Each unit is designed to meet Chile’s basic requirements for low-income housing with regards to size of home by occupancy.


The idea for “Half a House” came about years earlier when Aravena’s firm, Elemental, was commissioned to build units of low-income housing for only $7,500 per unit. There was a strong opposition to large-scale, public housing towers, so the design was constrained to low-rise dwellings.


Highlights

  • Aravena’s solution was to construct half of a nicer house, leaving the other half for customization when the owner was able to build it out to their desires and specifications.

  • The design helps address the most challenging aspects of construction, including the concrete foundations, plumbing, and electrical wiring


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