The socio-housing issues is a required course of the Architecture degree at the Universidad Católica de Córdoba. Available to all students who finished the second year, the course is structured based on practices of social projection. The objective of the course is to carry out the project “Socio-housing services” (SHS), which means designing, building and renovating working-class homes in the outskirts of Córdoba city and its rural areas. The project was developed with the civic engagement board from Barrio Santa Isabel, a suburban developing neighborhood, located in the southwest of the capital city. This neighborhood has all the essential services, although its habitability is deficient (precariousness and especially overcrowding), so improvement and expansion are imperative as a result of the type of land where the houses are located and the low socioeconomic level and employment conditions of its residents.
With the aid of students of SHS, it is possible to provide the residents with a building condition assessment in Santa Isabel. People with building problems in their houses resort to the Board so that its members visit the house to confirm them. Then the School of Architecture sends a group of students to carry out the survey and the consequent advice. In some cases, students carry out the extension project that will later be carried out.
The course itself is compound of a fixed class content which is the core of the subject: socio-housing issues, housing policies, actors and their roles, appropriate and appropriable technologies, typologies. Each semester, the necessary class content is included, required by the specific experience that students carry out. For example, how to create a plot plan or the existing town city regulations and ordinances so that a house can meet with the land-title regularization process. In general, this means going back and forth: a course of action proposed depending on the context requirements is taken into consideration and evaluated several times.
The students of the course have the opportunity to make real architecture. But here there are no professionals and contracting party (clients) but students and vulnerable communities. Therefore, obtaining the money to carry it out and have it all solved in six months is difficult, and it requires a great coordination effort between teachers and volunteers, since all the assessing, surveying, projecting and building takes place within a framework where it is necessary to combine students’ learning and community-service. It has required long-term learning that has been acquired over the years based on concrete experiences, and that has enabled the different actors to get in tune.
“Personally, it was important to go to University, because you interact, you have contact with people who have the expertise, you can learn a lot from them. I also ended up learning a lot of things, I updated myself.” (Ernesto Ludueña, bricklayer, a participant in the bricklaying course).
“The link established by the course produces a responsibility for what it is done; it is designed from the inside, based on the real needs of the family and not on what one thinks those needs are.” (Juan José Corimayo, UCC student).
THE PROJECT IN NUMBERS
PricewaterhouseCoopers Education Award – Fifth Edition – Year 2008
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