ISSUE1. The Importance of understanding self-construction and self-production in architecture


19 Jul
  • Photo Credit: Alfonso Arias Martinez

Mexico and much of Latin America are known for their cultural and biodiversity richness. However, most of its population belongs to a low socioeconomic stratum, where the priorities always go in the direction of satisfying the most pressing physiological needs of large and multi-generational family groups, with limited resources and small urban plot of land.

Affordable housing is a human right; these families require spaces that satisfy their privacy and coexistence, recreation and work, limitation and expansion, maximum space and minimum cost, flexibility as well as a personalized treatment regarding their needs from design to execution. This is to say; it requires a series of considerations that seem contradictory to the formal way of the modern architectural production paradigm.

It requires respect, since this way of spatial conception does not usually adjust to the livable demands of those families, so observing that many architects struggle to discredit and go against the processes of self-production and self-construction, it harms not only the requirements of the inhabitants with inadequate housing but the discipline itself, as it reinforces a popular vision of the participation of an architect as a luxury service. These majorities have strong constructive traditions and spatial insights, it is not surprising that more than 80% of home construction is done without the participation of an architect.

Generally most architects have been trained to work for high socioeconomic levels, historically they have struggled to impose their way of thinking about popular housing, and find it contradictory to work hierarchically with those responsible for the construction with complex designs and low fees, architects who ontologically see the clients based on the discipline as art - technique, and not based on the inhabitants.

Reintegration is perhaps in the social distribution of labor, where everyone participates and everyone benefits from it. In order to do this, architects must visualize and discuss this topic without prejudice, avoid being negative when facing this reality. Architects must share their knowledge and support to achieve the empowerment of both the inhabitants and construction workers to gain technical and design participation in the processes of social construction of the living space and, above all, a willingness and open mind to find solutions.

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