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Case study CHSS of the July exhibition 2009

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  1. 1. INT INTRODUC O INTRODUCTION N NTRODUCT UC UC CTION ‘People make the city’. Intrigued, avoided, feared, loved, neglected, depended, there are many ways to describe the relations that many Salvadorians have with the Centro Histórico San Salvador. One thing is certain everybody has a strong opinion about this amazingly vivid city center. Oblivious to the context we visited the Downtown area and were surprised to see the intense livelihood in the public space, totally blocking out the neglected buildings. While the local students of our generation mostly avoid or never even been to this area, the older generation was able to inform us about the place that seems to contain a lot of the cultural history of El Salvador. From squatters in vacant buildings, informal settlements and mesons, the dwelling typologies adapted to its context and the commercial importance never left the historic centre.
  2. 2. 1935 1955 1977 1995 2003
  3. 3. “During the ‘50s wealthy families left CHSS and “Our number one concern is not the disaster vulnerability, but the “It takes me more then a year to apply changes labour families were living in mesons (a former murders and violence. In the previous month [prior to our visit] there like putting up walls, a bathroom or change a part mansion where multiple families now live and were 360 murders in the country, mostly related to gang activity.” of the façade. I admire the artesanos [craftsmen] share the basic services). The earthquake [San Salvador has more than 200 per 1000 habitants affected by who work and sell in this area and I want to destroyed most of these mesons and the people criminality.] contribute to the issue by establishing a little were displaced. They lost an affordable way of - Local policemen shopping center in my house. I know a man who living and reacted with squatted settlements. makes guitars and has to sell them all over the Related to this displacement is the increase of “I visited CHSS at night to bring food for a voluntary project. While I country because it’s too unsafe for buyers to economic activity, in the sense of street vendors. was driving I didn’t want to stop or slow down because if you do, the come visit him in CHSS. In front of my house are This became a form of living which is occupying ‘boxes begin to move’. When I had to stop, this actually happened bars and prostitutes. It’s incredible that they have the open space/streets of CHSS. Adjacent to but as soon as they saw I was bringing food, they did not rob me.” security and we don’t have guards in [for) my earthquakes, hurricane Mitch in 1998 also - Sofia Bonilla, student of UCA house.” influenced these tendencies. The results of the - Resident speaking at the Forum that took place programs (slum upgrading) of Fundasal which “We have to visit CHSS around the time most vendors arrive or at UCA focus on mesons, became visible and should be leave, just to feel the social tension and see the hurry of the vendors taken into account for spatial planning and to get out of the place. […] We are foreigners in our own city center.” architecture.” - Billy Solano, architect for Grupo Roble and teacher at the UCA - Roberto Chinchilla, OPAMSS SPATIAL POLITICAL INTENSIFICATION Almost completely blocked by the occupation of the street; the stores and restaurants that are located in these historic buildings are a form FORMAL of formal activity in the area. The entrance is protected with heavily armed security guards. There are different levels of informal economic activities, which in turn find “Aside for the circumstances I accept [this livelihood]. Salvadorians know they need to their place in the open space. First we have the informal market stall, which GRADATION VENDORS work to eat, every day”. occupy the sidewalk. The stalls are more or less permanent, mostly built up - Resident of meson La Décima in CHSS with tin/aluminium sheets, bamboo/wood or different kinds of fabric cloths. The second degree is the vendor with cases and boxes which stay in “If you can’t find it Downtowh (CHSS) you can’t find it anywhere”. one place. The last level is the vendor that moves around with products. - Common saying from the residents of San Salvador ECONOMICAL SPATIAL LAYERS
  4. 4. Traffic contributes a big part to the density of the open space. Very high TR FFIC estimations of the quantity of buses brought us to the Ministry of Trans- port, owned by government officials. Impossible to have a look into the TRAFF bus-system, we tried to map this quantity with other tools. In one of our TRAF TR F workshop about CHSS, the intensity of the traffic and the heavy pollution was repeatedly portrayed. “One of the biggest problems is the big amount of busses passing downtown every day. There are 365 different bus lines that have downtown as destination. It causes traffic, pollution and danger for pedestrians. - Sonia Baires, Alcaldia San Salvador POLITICAL
  5. 5. DENSITY PUBLIC SPACE SITY SITY PUBLIC SPACE TY B C SP SPAC In between the blocks called ‘manzanas” there is a variety of street profiles. In some streets it’s prohibited by law for the vendors to sell while others are completely taken over and formed into market spaces with roofs. The courtyards of the blocks are mainly used for parking. This seems to be considered very profitable as the majority of the kids we asked in one of the workshop what they would do with one block in CHSS, responded with renting it out as parking space Low-rise building damaged by Informal vendors are frequently forced aside by a heavy RENOVATION PUBLIC SPACE earthquakes and neglected for traffic flow. Especially the buses cause a great amount of In front of a church the public years. In most cases the ground pollution and danger. Along side the garbage this contributes space of a former gang floor is used for storage and to a very unhealthy atmosphere. territory is renovated to LOW-RISE VACANT commerce, in other cases the improve social control and to building is abandoned. The benefit from the connectivity. structure is damaged and forms a great danger of collapsing, because of the high developing TRAFFIC costs reconstruction is only done on a small scale. These traditional one level buildings are mainly used DWELLING/COMMERCE as dwellings and small businesses, like ‘fotocopias’. An office building of multiple layers (6 or 7 estimated) damaged by earthquake, now has 3 layers and is in use with no sign of any intention for NGO reconstruction/renov “RUINS” ation. CHSS has an established network for basic services which is adapted formally or informally to provide the increase of demands.
  6. 6. DWELL NG TYPOLOGY: M ON DWEL DWELL G TYPOLOGY: DWELLING TYPOLOGY: MESON WE WELLING TY YPOLOGY: Wealthy families left their, mostly one economic activities in the public space The mesons are psychical evidence of a level, houses called mesons in the 50’s peaked with the increase of informal cultural way of living in San Salvador. because of the migration influx of labour vendors. Residents living under the poverty line, families. This working class occupied the After visiting three mesons, it became use the foundation of historic wealth to mesons in another way; multiple families clear that these are small communities build a home. They have to cope with each with a single house/room (a module inside this hectic part of San Salvador. social, economical and political issues with an estimated floor space of 20m2) With the help of NGO Fundasal some on a day to day basis and reorganize sharing facilities like bathrooms. The became well organized and were able to their way of dwelling in CHSS with the earthquakes of 1965, 1986 and 2001 improve the way of living with technical disruptive force of earthquakes. Self caused internal displacement and incentives, like installations for basic organization, guidance from local NGOs severely damaged the constructions of services (water/sanitation etc.). like Fundasal and international material the buildings. Reconstruction by Reconstruction means a new start. In supply seem to improve comfort, evident government or owners did not follow, one meson they put the focus on in the adaptation of the individual resulting in the residents moving out, improving the court yard as public space. modules in these mesons. settling in squatted (informal) The perspective on material use could settlements nearby or rebuilding their change; some residents we interviewed modules inside the plot of the meson. now prefer lamina (tin/aluminium sheets) Because of this, the civil war and the for fast and more affordable recovery. economic crisis, during the ‘80s the
  7. 7. DIALOGUE OG G Local NGO Fundasal focuses on the residents in CHSS, who live under the poverty line. The incentives differ from basic service installations to complete new CO CONNE TIVIT CONNECTIVITY CONNECTIVITY CONNECTIV TY ‘HISTORICAL D TABASE’’ C HIST RICAL DATA ASE’ STO AL DATABASE COMMER COMMERCE COMMERCE L DATABASE’ DATABA NETW B SERVICES WORK UNIVER UN ERSIT UNIVER ITIES UNIVERSITIES R RS RC NETWORK BASIC SER ES ERVICES S EC EC Y DEPENDENCE ECON MY DEPENDE ECONOMY DEPE DEPE DEPENDE E construction, like the meson San Esteban. The national government takes the responsibility to maintain the Out of the perspective of the private sector infrastructure (roads) and with ‘OUTDATED REGULAT OUT ED REGULATIONS’ OUTDATED REGULATI EGU EGU G GU a competition was set up for the renovation regulations they keep the sidewalk in of public space near meson San Esteban. front of the government buildings free ORGANIZATION 1935 from pedestrians. SOCIA SECUR SOC N)))SECURITY SOCIAL ((IN)SECURITY C SEC SECU E 1955 The local government owns 7% of the property, while the remaining 93% is 1977 owned by the private sector. They focus TRAFFIC INTENSITY RAFFIC RA C TE SITY RAFFIC INTENSITY on small projects in the public space that 1995 they can finish within the time period of three years. NGO 2003 They organize the informal street vendors with over 250 organizations, DWELLING coordinated by a local governmental organ: ‘Gerencia el Centro Histórico’. [RE]DEVELOPMENT The community reacts with squatting, informal vending etc. With the help of Fundasal they learn how to be organized (in meson) and form a ‘corperativa’ that gives them a platform to voice their opinion for dialogue. Some areas are ? controlled by gangs and have great Unique in the context of El Salvador is dwelling for multiple focus influence in the CHSS area. groups. Normally the typology is orientated on families of 3-7, here there are also single and 2-3 typologies developed. The university UCA has a social program: International NGO GTZ and local university UCA investigate the students have to work 600 hours in their pro’s and cons of capacity buildig in mesons: communities entire studies in social work, only in the building the houses themselves, with professional guidance. faculty of Architecture it’s mandatory that “In 1965 the earthquake triggered some new settlements, these promoted the CHSS area. The one in 1986 did the same but these settlements made up the AMSS area. After ’86 “The main reason for a choice to avoid CHSS is the political situation. While he’s waiting for ‘another change’ I have to point out the absence of political, social and “You architects [urban planners] put the attention towards plaza’s, malls and the decentralizing the commercial use of CHSS. The sellers are incorrectly they work in the field of Districto Italia, a settlement ‘in the middle of nowhere’ build by the Italian government, which security stability. My company is right-orientated and they feel that the Alcaldia lacks portrayed as a problem that makes the CHSS ugly and dangerous. Stop NGO architecture/engineering (the building is slowly being integrated in the urban structure. […]Municipalities buy the land and they have in the policy and management, for example in regulating the pollution and ignoring and include the sellers in the plans. We are a problem according to to buy the cheapest, which are usually far away from the beneficiaries’ lost homes. According crowdedness caused by traffic. Basically the issue regarding CHSS is not an issue of you, but it’s not cosmetic it’s something social and we have families and are a sector). to him, it’s has to do with landmarks and the capacity of the national and local government to the buildings and that why most developers strategic choose the suburbs for part of society”. ‘foresee’ social housing.” projects. […] The property owners of the abandoned buildings want to rent the space - Pedro Julio Hernandez, member of a civil organization and seller CHSS at - Carlos Ferrufino: architect/teacher and the director of the Faculty of Architecture (UCA) out. The places are for the most part rented for services for the people (habitants & the Forum CHSS at UCA vendors) of CHSS, for example storage.” “Downtown (CHSS) is a reflection of the psychology of the people. The city will ““As a teacher I try to get my students involved with CHSS, give them social colored be chaotic because we are chaotic; the real value of the city is the human assignments. You have to understand most of the students never been to CHSS.” essence”. - Billy Solano, architect for Grupo Roble and teacher at the UCA - Man in the audience responding at the Forum CHSS at UCA In this workshop one of the groups empha- sized the importance of integrated urban planning for a redevelopment project in CHSS, if it was affected by a natural disas- ter. The main approach in the developing phase was including the needs of the ben- eficiaries and trying to reach out to the public: “Educate them about the history so that they can love it”.