How Catastrophe Inspired Brilliant Home Design (Print)

The people of Constitución wanted a new city, something with a classic Chilean look and a skyline unburdened by high-rise buildings. Walking access to the river was paramount. But when it came to the housing itself, Elemental eschewed the idea of lumping together stacks of apartment-like buildings in the areas where favelas and shantytowns had been destroyed. That style of social housing has long been the go-to method for cities looking to quickly boost housing options for lower-income residents, and can be seen cutting into the skies in places like Chicago and Hong Kong.

Instead, Elemental wanted to give these victims real homes, designed for long-term comfort, stability, and safety in a traumatic time—even if the people living in them didn’t have a lot of cash to spare.

So Elemental built the people of Constitución half-houses. Really good half-houses, in a desirable part of the city, grouped around open space to encourage community get-togethers, and just big enough that a single family could live in one. Best of all? They were priced at only $20,000—the same amount that would buy a low-quality apartment on the fringe of the city.

Read this, and the rest of GOOD Magazine’s 10th anniversary edition, here.