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CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA


Cartagena


Index

Introduction

The Public Realm

Housing Typologies Moving Forward

Assessing Urban Resilience for Low-Income Housing Enterprises

Courtyard Typology

Public Open Space

Neighborhood Planning

A Live-Work Neighborhood for Low-Income Households in Cartagena, Colombia

The Master Plan

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Introduction


A Live-Work Neighborhood for Low-Income Households in Cartagena, Colombia

The Objective This workshop focused on the creation of a new neighborhood, proposing a livelihood-based approach to the idea of home, where the neighborhood supports both living and working. The workshop explored the design of alternative strategies using a typical 500-house super-block as their site, derived from the master plan for Ciudad Bicentenario, a microproject by the Fundación Mario Santo Domingo (FMSD) on the outskirts of Cartagena. Students considered the local codes and regulations, and economic constraints that currently exist, to create a new housing and neighborhood typology.

The Context Like many emerging economies, Colombia has undertaken an extraordinarily large expansion of national housing subsidy programs. In 2010, President Juan Manuel Santos set the objective of closing the housing gap with the construction of 1 million homes during his 4 year term. Colombia’s national housing policy fits within a larger initiative called “Macroprojects of National Social Interest” (Macroproyectos de Interés Social Nacional). This initiative aims to address, quantitatively, the deficit of housing supply for lower income sectors, and to expand urban land markets. Fundación Mario Santo Domingo (FMSD) is a non-profit organization in northern Colombia which works with poor communities in housing and microfinance, and partners with the national government for the design and implementation of the housing macroprojects. During the last few years, FMSD has made significant efforts to introduce their Integrated Development for Sustainable Communities (DINCS) model in largescale housing projects to emphasize “building communities, not just housing.” However, there is a disconnect between the desire by FMSD to create “habitats”, the goals of the DINCS model, and the material outcome of these housing projects that result in homogenous, repetitive neighborhoods, inflexible, minimum-standard houses, and low quality of public spaces. The existing housing built by FMSD is constrained by economics and very rigid standards in the use of space, leaving little room for added activities. Reconfiguring the houses is expensive, time consuming, and beyond most residents’ financial capacity. As a result of this inadequate architectural and urban design, residents have started to modify their interior space, and some have created commercial enterprises in their front porch areas. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive for those who have the financial means and energy to change their environments.

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The Residents As of 2010, about 70% of Cartagena’s neighborhoods were considered to have both formal and informal houses. This high percentage was due to the city’s rapid expansion during the 1970s and 80s, when informal settlements made up close to 90% of the city. This growth became most prominent in Cienaga de la Virgen, a site next to Ciudad Bicentenario (CB), and in the south and southeast of the city. Some of these settlements developed in high risk zones including areas prone to flooding or in dangerous proximity to high voltage cables. Settlement growth also occurred in ecologically protected areas, which negatively impacted the environmental equilibrium of those zones. Many of the families who moved to CB were relocated from the San Francisco neighborhood, a centrally located informal settlement which was affected by a landslide in 2010, displacing thousands of families from their homes. Others are families who were displaced from rural areas, mostly in the Antioquia region, because of the conflict and violence in the country. Due to socio-economic stratification, the Ciudad Bicentenario macroproject attracted people with similar economic characteristics, thus consolidating a socio-economically homogeneous community. At the time of arrival to Ciudad Bicentenario, residents were extremely vulnerable economically. Most of the residents had neither a sustained economic activity nor the capacity to build up savings. In fact, 80% of residents reported an income below the minimum wage, 91% indicated being unable to save any money, and 61% admitted skipping meals because of money shortages. The already dire poverty levels were worsened by barriers to labor market access before families moved to CB. Data from the surveys showed the residents’ struggle to build financial capacities and access job opportunities. Structural unemployment and training conditions indicated that many families rely on their combined capacity to engage in temporary informal work. They depend on external income sources – from the state or from other family members. For instance, in Ciudad Bicentenario, 71% of the respondents said that they worked informally, and 85% of the surveyed families relied on informal activities such as renting out all or part of their dwelling (43%), remittances (38%), and the state (cash transfers, 6%), for sustenance.


Introduction

The Guiding Ideas

Design Principles

The team proposed innovative design solutions responding to principles of ethical standards and social inclusion, environmental performance and contextual relevance, and economic viability. We focused on the following areas:

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Neighborhood diversity: Students worked with 2 house types and different spatial groupings. Some encouraged more socialization or were more child-focused, whereas other groupings were more work-focused. Public space design considered Cartagena’s diverse tradition of narrow streets which provide self-shaded environments for a comfortable pedestrian experience; intimate squares and plazas; and commercial corners that stimulate street life and provide retail opportunities. Housing flexibility: Families arriving in Ciudad Bicentenario are diverse in composition. Often, more than one household lives in the same house; elderly and temporary family members share the minimum-standard house, provoking overcrowded conditions and psychological stress. The design of a variety of house types with expansion plans were a key aspect of the workshop proposals, including flexibility in use, the possibility of reorganization, ease of adaptation, low cost, and user-friendly solutions. Environmental quality: The climate in Cartagena can reach up to 29°C (84°F) with 94% humidity (on average) during the hottest month. Current neighborhoods are not planned to take advantage of wind flows or to create shade. Existing houses perform poorly for thermal comfort. We engaged in a rigorous, comparative assessment of the existing neighborhood typologies, including the walled city, and accordingly set our criteria for site planning and housing design. Environmental analysis of proposed streets, community spaces and housing typologies was performed to ensure self-shading, and to optimize natural ventilation. Passive strategies (to enhance ventilation, shading, energy efficiency) for homes and other spaces were developed.

High-Density and Low-Rise: Create a high-density/low-rise urban development with a diverse urban fabric and traffic separation (pedestrian and car separation as principle of urban design).

2. The Neighborhood Design: Design a neighborhood based on the cluster concept in relation to public space/identifiable elements to generate a sense of community. 3. The Growing House: Provide for flexibility in the layout of the house to allow growth, change and customization. 4. Building Sustainability: Innovate climatically responsive design, low-cost, technology-based typologies, and urban design. Use low-cost technology and materials for mass affordable housing construction. 5. Urban Scale: Establish a structure/gradient for types of public spaces, with different scales and identities; from the courtyard to the street front, to the alley, to the pocket, to the corner, to the square. 6. Human Scale: Promote a walkable urban district that relates to the human scale. 7. Mixed Use: Integrate commercial, production, education, housing and leisure to achieve a finer grained mix of uses.

Work/productivity: Houses explored work spaces and shared spaces, to accommodate community-controlled green businesses (high-tech, labor-intensive agriculture). Additional job creation opportunities on-site could give some households an economic leg up, and for those who may be renters the possibility of entering a “rent to buy option” where work is a path to home ownership. The provision of common spaces such as workshops where residents could learn new skills, be creative, and create salable products, would contribute to the local economy. Public spaces also included market squares. Construction technologies: Students tested prefabricated construction systems that could save time and costs for most of the structures, working with POPLab. The prefabricated systems also created potential employment opportunities.

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The Process The workshop was an intensive, hands-on process that engaged a mix of architecture and planning faculty and students. The team collaborated with local university students and the staff of FMSD. The quality of the workshop was enhanced greatly by having a space to use in the local school in Ciudad Bicentenario during their holidays. Having easy access to the environment and its functioning on a daily basis was invaluable. Four students from local universities supported the workshop by providing information on the kinds of renovations and additions being made to the houses by the community. Understanding the use of rear setbacks was a key takeaway from their report. The personalization of interior and exterior space was also recorded to demonstrate the desire of home owners to express their identity. The FMSD administration and staff helped our understanding of the building codes, the cost of construction, and current building practices. Without these insights our work would have been much less productive. The workshop process was informed by the preliminary findings of the Resilient Cities Housing Initiative (RCHI) research, led by Prof. Larry Vale, whose team conducted fieldwork on the social, cultural and economic aspects of the population living in Ciudad Bicentenario.

Key Learnings Through this workshop, students engaged with the local context and local stakeholders, members of the FMSD, and local university students to develop a master plan, public realm strategies, and housing typologies. These solutions challenged the conventional models of housing typologies to increase community resilience through the provision of livelihood spaces within the neighborhood itself. The housing typology can offer transferable ideas on flexibility, climate adaptation and mixed uses, that have the potential to become a critical part of the macroprojects’ policy guidelines in Colombia.


Team

MIT

FMSD

Universidad de San Buenaventura, Cartagena

Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano, Cartagena

Adèle Naudé Santos Debora Mesa Molina

José Francisco Aguirre Mariam Ajami Santo Domingo Mauricio Faciolince Pablo Gabriel Obregón Laurina Pereira Claudia Patricia Rozo Ronald David Silva

Luis Antonio Von Burgos Mauro José Ortega Vergara

Cristian David Almario Cruzado Juan David Valderrama Viana

Giovanni Bellotti Max Jarosz Zain Karsan Justin Lim Daniel Marshall Mackenzie Muhonen Waishan Qiu Maya Shopova Angelos Siampakoulis Manuela Uribe Alexander Wiegering

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First Impressions of Cartagena

We started our work wishing to create a better planned and designed community within the strict standards and regulations that have been previously used in Ciudad Bicentenario and similar developments. However, there were trade-offs, some that we ultimately had to discard or recommend changes to.


Introduction

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The Master Plan


Neighborhood Planning

The existing blocks and those under development are virtually identical. Long rows of repetitive housing units are not conducive to a neighborly spirit or the creation of a sense of community. We proposed reducing the size of these housing blocks to create more identity, the ability to create a sense of community, and ultimately to make the streets and community spaces safer. The large mature trees on the site are preserved, thereby enhancing the identity of this neighborhood. The central market space is the focus for this super-block flanked by 3 story shop-houses with continuous ground level retail space. Via Troncal del Bicentenario is also lined with ground level retail with 2 story houses above having balconies that face this boulevard. These 3 floor units are intended for sale. A loop road for pedestrians and cars serves the entire block. Access through the middle pedestrian street leading to the central plaza can be accessed by vehicles at reserved hours. Smaller courtyards in the center of the blocks contain farms or other shared activities. Special wider properties are placed on corners to encourage retail use. Compact planning and utility lines are provided to control the cost of infrastructure.

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1. Market Square 2. East Gateway Entry Street 3. West Gateway Entry Street 4. Retail/Commercial Street 5. Street Parking

The Master Plan

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6. Pedestrian Retail Street 7. One-Way Loop Street 8. Fab Lab 9. Urban Farms 10. Playground

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11. Corner Shops 12. Work Space 13. Community Center


The Master Plan

Clear Street Network + Natural Ventilation Provide a clear street network that is oriented to allow for natural breezes throughout the neighborhood.

Human Scale Clusters Create a human scale neighborhood that promotes a healthy lifestyle.

Mixed-Use Program Introduce commerce throughout the neighborhood. Provide areas for work space, fabrication labs, and urban farms.

Open Space Around Existing Trees Provide large and intimate open space for various community activities around existing trees.

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Environmental Analysis

Computation tools are deployed to conduct iterative analyses on the relationship of building layouts and orientation and self-shading rates. The most efficient angle, adopted in the project, is 10-15°.

Reduction in direct solar radiation is achieved by the adaptation to the roof.

01. Flat roof

A slight overhang from the front facade reduces solar radiation by around 40%

02. 16° pitch

03. 1m roof overhang

16°


The Master Plan

The climate in Cartagena can reach up to 29°C (84°F) with 94% humidity (on average) during the hottest month and the current neighborhoods are not planned to take advantage of wind flows or to create shade. Existing houses perform poorly for thermal comfort. Interior temperatures are unusually hot, especially at night due to a lack of insulation for roofs, limited cross-ventilation, and no roof overhangs. We engaged in a rigorous, comparative assessment of the existing neighborhoods, including the walled city, and set our criteria for the site planning and housing design. Environmental analysis was completed for proposed streets, community spaces and housing typologies to ensure self-shading, and to optimize natural ventilation.

01. No overhang

New Neighborhood Self-Shading Rate: 90%

Historic Neighborhood Self-Shading Rate: 88%

02. 60cm overhang

Current Social Housing Self-Shading Rate: 78%

Natural Ventilation strategy

Shuttered Openings

Large Openings

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The Public Realm


Public Open Space

The proposed open spaces are defined according to scales of privacy and openness, encouraging and organizing different forms of appropriation. Rather than a sea of public space where private properties float in isolation, the common spaces of the project – from the courtyard to the street, to the market squares – are designed at 5 scales.

Farms

Community Center

Work Spaces

Market Square

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Open Space - From Private to Public

The The Incremental Incremental Home Home The The single single family family home home is is aa flexible flexible patio patio type, type, allowing allowing for for growth growth over over time. time. The The Courtyard Courtyard Scale Scale 1: 1: The The Family Family As As the the organizing organizing unit unit of of the the house, house, the the most most private private open open space space of of the the project project is is the the private private courtyard, courtyard, built built for for aa single single family family but but easily easily connected ing units, allowing for connected to to neighborneighboring for multi-family multi-family homes. homes. As As each each household household grows grows within courtyard guarguawithin the the plot over time, the courtyard rantees adequate lighting and ventilation in antees adequate in all all units. units. The The Front Front Yard Yard Scale Scale 2: 2: The The Neighborhood Neighborhood

an Farms

Starting Starting from from aa catalog catalog of of terraces, terraces, the the front front yard yard can can evolve evolve into into aa space space for for work work and and small small retail, retail, or or as as an an open open house house extension, extension, connected to the theliving living room, mediating connected to room, mediating bebetween public and private realms tween thethe public and thethe private realms The The Cluster Cluster Courtyards Courtyards Scale Scale 3: 3: The The Blocks Blocks Each block shares sharesanan openly ac- cessible Each block openly accessible workworkspace, dedicated togroup the group of families space, dedicated to the of families sursurrounding Thesecan canbebeused usedas as workstarentable rounding it. it. These workstations, as places for profes- sional edutions, as places for professional education, cation, host fabrication or farms. urban farms. host fabrication labs or labs urban

Centres

The The Community Community Squares Squares Scale Scale 4: 4: The Community Three ne the Three elements elements de define the local local squares squares -- the the pre-existing per-existing trees, trees, around around which which they they are are ararranged; ranged; aa podium, podium, elevated elevated from from the the ground, ground, available available for for work, work, commerce commerce or or leisure; leisure; and and aa canopy, canopy, shading shading the the area. area.

The The Market Market Places Places Scale Scale 5: 5: The The City City The The main main gathering gathering space space is is the the Market Market Square, Square, arranged arranged along along the the main main circulation circulation ring, ring, intended intended to to serve serve not not just just the the local local comcommunity, munity, but but neighboring neighboring blocks blocks as as well. well.


The Courtyard Scale 1: The Family As the organizing unit of the house, the most private open space of the project is the private courtyard, built for a single family but easily connected to neighboring units, allowing for sharing by multi-family homes.

The Front Yard Scale 2: The Neighborhood The front yard contributes to the construction of the street section, mediating between the public and private realms. Starting from a catalog of terraces, the front yard can evolve into a space for work and small retail, or as an open house extension connected to the living room.

The Cluster Courtyards Scale 3: The Blocks Each block shares an openly accessible work space, dedicated to the group of families surrounding it. These can be used as rented workstations, as places for professional education, fabrication labs or urban farms.

The Community Squares Scale 4: The Community Three elements define the local squares – the pre-existing trees around which they are arranged; a podium, elevated from the ground, available for work, commerce or leisure; and a canopy that shades the area.

The Market Places Scale 5: The City The main gathering space is the market square, arranged along the main circulation ring, intended to serve not just the local community, but neighboring blocks as well.

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Market The Courtyard Square

Existing Backyard


Introduction The Bathroom: Provides 2 separate rooms for shower and toilet on the second floor

Upper floor expansion: The second floor can develop as an additional room or as a covered terrace overlooking the patio

Prefabricated steel staircase

The Work Space: The back of the house can be developed around given load bearing structure

The Kitchen: Naturally ventilated from the courtyard, the kitchen is the core of the ground floor

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The Corner Stores

Corner stores: Combines a family home with ground floor commercial space


Corner plinths: Combined corner squares build common areas across different neighborhoods, with concentrated commercial spaces

Macadam pavement: Allows for fast drainage during the rain season

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The Alley

Existing Typical Alleyway


The Overhang: With a minimum cantilever, shading is improved on the south facing facades

The front yard can be developed as a small commercial front

The street section is reduced to 4m, maximizing ventilation

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The Farm

Vegetables produced on-site can be sold at the community market or to local stores in Cartagena


The Farm: Each of the 7 farms on site can employ up to 5 people from the community, providing up to 1500 grown lettuces each month

Neighborhood squares: host working spaces, farms or work stations

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Market Square


Introduction

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Housing Typologies


Courtyard Typology

The courtyard typology design emerged from combining traditional features of Cartagena’s houses with innovative ideas for live-work spaces to help improve the livelihood of residents in these neighborhoods. Typological studies departed from the courtyard house as a valuable model that is both familiar to Colombian culture and responsive to climate. While this typology is widely used in the historic city of Cartagena, its application in new housing developments, especially in low income neighborhoods, is minimal. As a source of light and air, the incorporation of such an architectural device in the interior of the home brings higher levels of habitability and environmental performance to the heart of each residential unit. Domestic spaces are able to fully open into this private outdoor space without compromising intimacy or protection. To define the basic core of the proposed houses, the courtyard is paired with main circulation (stairs), and infrastructural components (kitchen and bathroom), thus efficiently concentrating communication and mechanical systems in the same spatial cell. The different articulation of other functional areas around this core results in 4 variations of the courtyard typology. This typology also creates the opportunity to remove backyards in houses and guarantee light and ventilation at the center of the domestic unit. They resolve the expansion conflicts observed in existing typologies where informal occupation of backyards compromise habitability by blocking access to natural light and air. Different scales of commercial and productive activities are introduced as a response to current family needs – from flexible domestic spaces connected to front yards that can alternate as living and working areas throughout the day, to partially and completely independent commercial spaces occupying the ground level of the home. Houses are thought to provide basic enclosure and structural elements in an initial stage and allow certain degrees of growth over time. The courtyard introduces a natural subdivision of the spaces around it and open plan layouts give families the possibility to organize and subdivide rooms based on their particular needs. Through this typology design, families can decide what kind of renovation/expansion best fits their financial, entrepreneurial capacities, and family size and lifestyle, to determine how they want to adapt the initial typology to their needs. 31


Courtyard House: Materials and Construction

Courtyard House Elements

Courtyard house elements

21 cm EPS + fiber cement cladding, reinforced with stainless steel profiles Prefab door and window panels, 100x270cm

24 cm EPS + top fiber cement cladding, reinforced with stainless steel profiles

11 cm EPS panel + fiber cement cladding

Stainless steel staircase

Courtyard House Extension Elements

Courtyard house extension elements

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Corrugated fiber cement boards

11cm EPS panel with fiber cement cladding

Prefab door and window panels, 100x270cm

11 cm EPS panel with fiber cement cladding, reinforced with stainless steel profiles

Corrugated fiber cement board


Housing Typologies

Materials and Construction

• Concrete plinth

• Bearing perimeter walls installation

• Beams and staircase installation

cement

• Slab and upper floor bearing walls layout

• Roof and partition walls installation

• House extension, first floor slab and fiber cement roof addition

• Concrete plinth

Construction practices observed in Ciudad Bicentenario’s low income neighborhoods are limited to a reduced material palette that does not take into consideration local climatic conditions, local industry potential, or social needs to customize domestic units.

• Bearing perimeter walls installation

A modular system is proposed for the assembly of the housing units, using prefabrication strategies to enhance current construction practices and quality. Light weight construction technology, developed by MIT’s POPlab, was used as a base to develop a structural framework that is easy to build, transform and expand.

• Beams and staircase installation

• Slab and upper floor bearing walls layout

The proposed construction technology uses familiar and widely available materials, like cement, to enhance thermal and structural behavior. It requires low tech assembly methods and non-specialized labor. We strongly believe that the introduction of alternative material compositions that can enrich the architecture, improve mechanical and environmental performance and create new opportunities for the construction industry is critical in these neighborhoods that can highly benefit from such innovations. Fabrication labs embedded into the community spaces of the block can train residents on new building practices and thus create employment opportunities.

• Roof and partition walls installation

• House extension, first floor slab and fiber cement roof addition

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Living+Working: The Incremental Home

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Living+Working 2,00

Extensions

extensions

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An analysis of existing conditions and transformation patterns for houses in Ciudad Bicentenario informs the design of the proposed residential types.

Front Yard Terraces

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House Types

Patio Ho

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Patio House + extension

House types Living/Working Front Yard Terraces

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Commercial House sqm Basic unit: 108 108m2 sqm Expanded unit: 135 135m2

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Live-work spaces become an intrinsic part of the proposed house to help improve the livelihood of residents in these neighborhoods.

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Different scales of commercial activity are introduced as a response to current family Ground Floor needs – from flexible domestic spaces connected to front-yards that can alternate as living and working areas throughout the day, to partially and completely independent commercial spaces occupying the ground level of the home.

Terrace

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Corner House1 sqm Basic unit: 70 70m2 Expanded unit: 95 95m2 sqm

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Planter

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Ground Floor

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a

First Floor First Floor

First Floor First Floor

Sitting Steps

Tribune

6,75 0,20 2,60

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0,90

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1,37

Corner House sqm Basic unit: 72 72m2 sqm Expanded unit: 92 92m2

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Courtyard House sqm Basic unit: 59 59m2 sqm Expanded unit: 88 88m2

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Stove

Laundry

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Housing Typologies

Front Yard Terraces extensions

House + extension Patio House +Patio Extension 4,00

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1,00

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1,00

3,00

Terrace

1,00

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a

3,00

1,00

1,00

Ground Floor

0,80

2,10

0,80

1,70

2,40

2,80

Planter

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a

First Floor First Floor

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2,30

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0,90

6,75

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1,37

Tribune

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Laundry

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Moving Forward


Assessing Urban Resilience for Low-Income Housing Enterprises in Colombia

The master plan will be upgraded to incorporate comments made by a review of this current stage by FMSD. We intend also to reflect on data coming in from the interviews of residents by the RCHI research team. There are likely to be spatial issues affecting the master plan or the house design. We also wish to reflect on the choices we made to create a more livable community with the need to produce very tight densities. We wish to take the courtyard house up to an architectural scale with drawings and models that can be shown to selected residents. We also aim to produce drawings that can be costed out through working with industry partners. This is likely to create changes as we refine the designed product.

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Cartagena


This publication is a preliminary summary and accounting of work conducted by graduate students in a workshop held at MIT. This report is not intended to be read as a comprehensive peer-reviewed document.

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HOUSING + A Live-Work Neighborhood for Low-Income Households in Cartagena, Colombia  
HOUSING + A Live-Work Neighborhood for Low-Income Households in Cartagena, Colombia