🥇Uniservitate Award 2022 winning experience

SUMMARY

Integral services for socio and urban housing solutions with the suburban communities in Córdoba. Creation of the Materials Bank for Socio-Housing Construction.

The Socio-Housing Service (SHS) is an institutional response of the Catholic University of Cordoba to the requirements of qualified and engaged professional training concerning the accompaniment of new social situations as a result of growing poverty, especially the significant and severe socio-housing deterioration in the Argentinian society, as well as in the rest of Latin America. This service is provided by the Socio-housing Problem Couse of the Architecture degree. Since 2006, this course has been compulsory to graduate as an architect at the Catholic University of Cordoba. It has also been a permanent service of the University Social Responsibility Programme to address the urban-housing needs of the vulnerable communities of Cordoba. In addition, it is included as an elective course in the Faculty of Engineering, thus becoming an interdisciplinary course for both faculties. It is also part of the Latin American University Network of Housing Chairs, which focuses on the socially and environmentally sustainable production of habitat.

The Socio-Housing Programme involves architecture and engineering undergraduates, professors and researchers who participate in complementary stages of academic, professional and social-ethical training. Some of them are the following: assisted pre-professional practices in vulnerable neighbourhoods that include surveying, participatory design and assistance to housing repair, extension and self-construction processes in vulnerable communities in the city of Cordoba; specialised interdisciplinary training sessions in the field of social housing; and participation in workshops to learn to identify environmental and social issues and beneficiaries’ needs, appreciate people and communities’ capacities and acknowledge the contribution of diverse academic, technical and popular knowledge to understand and solve the socio-housing problems of the different organisations and communities with which they are linked, from a humanist, integral and multi-actor vision and from a rights-based approach.

The communities that benefited between 2004 and 2022 were 45 informal settlements or popular neighbourhoods in the city of Cordoba and its area of influence. They are poor neighbourhoods or shanty towns, characterised by scarce access to basic services, such as drinking water, sanitation, energy, rubbish collection and means of transport. They also suffer from poor structural quality of housing, overcrowding, dangerous locations and insecure tenure. The strategy of working together with the communities facilitated the following: 

– Proposals for the urban reorganisation of their settlements, land subdivisions, public spaces and facilities.

– Survey and detection of improvements to design and technically manage community centres, soup kitchens and health clinics, and improve and progressively expand 1,459 housing units, with the preparation of their corresponding layout drawings and project blueprints.

– Technical follow-up and advice on self-construction works and solutions to construction pathologies in family homes.

– Training workshops in masonry, sanitary and electrical installations for self-builders, and workshops for the community production of construction elements to improve housing or the neighbourhood and the employability of young people.

– Access to low-cost materials through the creation of the Cordoba Materials Bank, which provides construction materials at a social price, obtained thanks to donations from 28 companies and 20 individual donors.

The Materials Bank was an initiative of the Socio-housing Service Programme in 2018 and nowadays gets support from Caritas Arquidiocesana, Centro Experimental de la Vivienda Económica the Experimental Centre for Affordable Housing (Experimental Centre for Affordable Housing of the CONICET), the Affordable Housing Association in Córdoba, construction companies, and the Fondo Ayuda del Sistema Provincial de Promoción en Red de la Solidaridad Social del Consejo Provincial de Políticas Sociales (Aid Fund of the Provincial System for the Networked Promotion of Social Solidarity of the Provincial Council of Social Policies). 

The Directorate for Youth and the Municipality of Córdoba supported the implementation of the project “Soup kitchens ready, dignified work”. This project entailed the integral development of soup kitchens and socio-community spaces in the southern area of the city of Córdoba, carried out together with members of the Ayllu group and the Programme “Training and social production centre of materials for the low-income housing sector, based on reclaiming and recycling disused materials.”

This experience helps recognise not only the needs and poverty in these suburban areas and communities but also the wide variety of capacities and richness existing in low-income neighbourhoods that are complementary to the knowledge and academic or professional resources. It is also a methodology that has allowed the university to establish a relationship with struggling families and neighbourhoods, who are collectively building their communities in search of a better future for their children. Moreover, it has contributed to overcoming preconceptions and prejudices, bringing views closer, and generating empathy and engagement with others. All these aspects are key components of the professional profile that the Catholic University of Córdoba seeks to cultivate: “Men and women of science, conscience and engagement” with human and sustainable development. “When you are part of these processes, you see the need and what you can do with your knowledge… I have discovered socio-housing as a specialisation which I find interesting to work in after I graduate” (testimonial from a student).

DATA SHEET

  • Name: Socio-housing Services (SHS)

  • Region: Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Country: Argentina

  • University: Catholic University of Córdoba- School of Architecture

  • Area or School involved: Socio-Housing Problem Chair Department of Projection and University Social Responsibility

  • Theme: Design and construction of adequate housing, collaboration with community housing and self-construction programmes and sustainable urban planning programmes.

  • Place of implementation: Forty-five neighbourhoods in the city of Cordoba and its area of influence.

  • Responsible for the experience: María Orozco, Daniela Gargantini and others.

PLACE OF IMPLEMENTATION