Buenos Aires, like many cities, is currently confronting a housing crisis. Its situation has been caused mainly by economic speculation and real estate market bubbles bursting. Putting it in simple terms: there’s not enough social housing for the people moving to our city, even while the real estate market is unable to sell off a surfeit of overpriced properties.
This important stock of overvalued housing, mainly in the form of large towers and skyscrapers, does not encourage the proper development of the city. Buenos Aires is paralyzed by these pricey properties, which make it unable to provide the quantity of housing for people in need and mandated by its current zoning laws.
However, Buenos Aires is a unique case in Latin America, thanks to its history of urban growth. It enjoys an abundance of many types of old buildings in varying states of preservation. These properties are already built, and their abundance represents an opportunity we cannot miss.
The rehabilitation of architectural heritage has to be positioned as a necessary option for urban regeneration and sustainable policies for social housing. In order to make this possible, there has to be a serious study of population dynamics and the conservation of historic districts; in conjunction with studies on housing demand, regeneration, and conservation of the architectural heritage destined for redevelopment and its use as affordable housing.
Fear of Gentrification
As discussed in a previous post, one of the main dangers of the redevelopment of underused buildings, areas, or districts is the speculation that this can cause. High quality historic buildings are often destined to become luxurious lofts for successful artists and wealthy investors. This clearly doesn’t solve the problem of housing for all citizens, bringing us back to the start of the problem.
Policies of social housing should consider the rehabilitation of architectural heritage as a priority, in order to counter the poorly oriented population dynamics towards the periphery, the growing need for social housing, in addition to preventing the deterioration of the city’s architectural heritage.
Unfortunately, this is far from becoming a reality.
Do you think redeveloping historical buildings is the real solution for the worldwide housing crisis? Is this possible considering the potential for speculation and gentrification?
Credits: Images by Luis Lozano-Paredes. Data linked to sources.