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Housing in the Global South: Vivienda ¿Qué Viene?

Housing in the Global South: Vivienda ¿Qué Viene?

Cover Vivienda ¿Qué viene? De pensar la unidad a construer la ciudad. (Cover Housing What's Next?)

We had the great pleasure of collaborating with the Inter-American Development Bank in publishing the book Vivienda ¿Qué viene? De pensar la unidad a construir la ciudad. The book takes as a starting point housing in the Global South. Over the course of the 20th century the world’s population grew more than in any other period in history, increasing from around 1.5 billion people in 1900 to nearly seven billion people today. Given this exponential growth it is essential to reflect on what we have done to house this growing population—or what have all these people done to procure housing by themselves. According to the numbers, we have been capable of building enough to compensate for the quantitative housing deficit; the biggest challenge we face today is to how to make qualitative changes to the existing housing stock. Population growth continues to be strong in the emerging economies of the Global South, and exploring the potential of housing to transform the urban fabric is critical to building better cities. This project is an invitation to make use of lessons learned strategically, to imagine new solutions and possibilities, bringing a renewed agenda to the table for the development of housing and cities in the years to come.

Vivienda ¿Qué viene? poses a series of questions that aim to start a productive, evidence-based conversation by looking at cases that have transformed local contexts or changed the vision of what housing can offer. We approach the subject from two angles: on the one hand, in order to consider the transformative powers of housing, we examine how it shapes the urban fabric. In order to shift the paradigm from an approach that seeks to cover the quantitative housing deficit to one that addresses the qualitative deficit, we need to take a serious look at the context of residential areas and the impact this has on them. In this vein, our comparative study of housing and cities in the region reveals that the gaps in access to urban basic services are essential when deciding what improvements are needed. In terms of the second angle, we chose cases that help answer some of our questions about housing’s transformative powers within a city.

How can housing contribute to people’s health? How can we use incremental self-building in a positive manner? What are we doing to promote housing that is adaptable for multiple uses? How can we replicate functional typologies without dismissing a community’s identity? How do we ensure that housing is accessible to all? How can we productively rethink the life cycle of housing? How can we imagine the space beyond the private domain? How do we build functional housing that responds to fluctuations in population size? How can we cover the needs of all people? What are the minimum standards housing must meet? What strategies can we use to reclaim dilapidated housing stock? These are just some of the questions that emerged over the course of our investigation. To provide a response, we collected case studies from the entire Global South and reviewed what emerging countries of Latin America, Asia and Africa have done to address these issues. In all cases, we asked the following four questions: How can housing be a driver of inclusion? How can we make it accessible, in the broadest sense of the word? How can we ensure that it is resilient in all aspects? And finally, how can we finance housing and ensure that it is affordable for all?


The cases and reflections included in this publication provide a repository of disruptive ideas that allow us to learn from what has already been done in other contexts. It is our hope that they will contribute to thinking broadly about how housing can be leveraged as a transformative element of cities.

…to read more, you can find a digital copy of the book in Spanish here. A translated English version is coming soon.


Verónica Adler
Senior Specialist, Housing and Urban Development Division, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Adler holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and an M.A. in Public Policy from the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has worked at the IDB since 2003. Between 2003 and 2008, Adler was based in Washington D.C. where she handled projects for Colombia and Venezuela, mainly on urban and rural social housing, neighborhood and informal area upgrading, and reform and modernization of public institutions. Since 2008, she has been stationed in Uruguay, from where  she works mainly on projects in Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Bolivia related to the economic development of subnational sectors, neighborhood upgrading, subnational public infrastructure and the revitalization of degraded urban areas. Currently she coordinates the actions of the Housing and Urban Development Division for the Southern Cone countries and is a member of the IDB’s Urban Innovation Laboratory.

Felipe Vera
Senior Associate at the IDB’s Housing and Urban Development Division. He has served as visiting faculty in the Department of Urban Planning and Design at Harvard University, director of the Center for Ecology, Landscape and Urbanism at the Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez and a professor at the same university. He is the author of numerous books, including, KumbhMela: Mapping the Ephemeral Megacity, Andrea Branzi: Ten Humble Recommendations for a New Athens Charter, and Ephemeral Urbanism: Cities in Constant Flux. Vera is an architect with a bachelor’s from Universidad de Chile, a Master’s in Ecology, Landscape and Urbanism from Harvard University (2013) and a Master’s in Real Estate Development from Universidad de Chile (2011).


DATE: 2018 / EDITORS: Verónica Adler and Felipe Vera / IADB Team: Verónica Adler, Felipe Vera, María Paloma Silva, Nora Libertun De Duren, Mariana A. Poskus, María Laura Romero, Grace Guinand, Juan Pablo López Gross, Emilia Aragón / EXTERNAL SUPPORT TEAM: Laura Sara Wainer (Research), Pablo Roquero (CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF EXHIBIT AND GRAPHIC DESIGN), Carolina Sepúlveda (GENERAL COORDINATOR ), Agustina González Cid (GRAPHIC PRODUCTION), Studio JOJ (Joe Jacobson y David Carnighan) AV Piwall Software Alex Goodyear, Colin Hogben, Adam Stephen (ASSEMBLY, PROGRAMMING, AUTOMATION AND MANUFACTURING) / CITY STUDIES: Luis Valenzuela, Equipo Centro de Inteligencia Territorial Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez / PUBLISHERS: IADB and lots of architecture –publishers (EDITOR IN CHIEF: Florencia Rodriguez / CEO: Pablo Gerson / EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Isabella Moretti / EDITORS: Renée Carmichael, Daniela Freiberg / GRAPHIC DESIGN: Mariam Samur, Diego Valiña / AUDIOVISUAL PRODUCTION: Natalia La Porta)

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