June 11 2013

Buenos Aires’ Popular Habitat Law Understood

Who’s afraid of the Buenos Aires’ new popular habitat act?

The answer: everyone. The recently enacted law of the Buenos Aires province proposes a compact, dense, diverse, and accessible city, aiming to reorient the urban land market. This law is shaking the fundamentals of planning in a metropolitan area that to a great extent still follows the dogmas of urbanism during the twentieth century.

Greater Buenos Aires’ growth produced in the last two decades an uneven and fragmented archipelago of gated neighborhoods, settlements, villas miseria and residential complexes. The expansion of highways and other infrastructure networks facilitated the sprawl. The availability of large tracts of land accessible within minutes of the city led to the emergence of large and closed residential enclaves, offices, hotels and health centers. Interspersed among the new projects are many older neighborhoods that share space with informal settlements and social housing projects, which are always insufficient to alleviate the needs of a population growing by tens of thousands each year.

inhabitant of a precarious settlement buenos aires

The new law garners the attention of all sectors involved in the production of housing and offers a variety of training and funding. This enables each one of them: cooperatives, civil associations, non-governmental organizations, and the general population, among others, to add their projects in a participatory and democratic fashion.

Municipalities are responsible for identifying and taking care of urban housing deficit. They are also responsible for creating structural planning and conditions for new developments that can help end the informal land settlement increase.

Land use and habitat buenos aires

However, creating new institutions and frameworks for urban development and housing that overlap or add to existing ones does not help solve the problems in the social field that developers have today. These problems include such things as housing deficit, poverty and insecurity. The act utilizes advice and training from the Provincial Housing Institute, but this may not be enough.

Living rights' congress in Buenos Aires

The critical problem is land use because this is precisely what is lacking: land well located and served. This law will compel municipalities to revitalize degraded areas, create special areas and set aside reserves. The aim is to recover a plethora of disused land that is well located.

For the good of the inhabitants of Buenos Aires, it is expected that this law will help make this fragmented archipelago a territory more organized and balanced. But do you think legislation is enough to solve a problem that is so long-held and that no one has yet been able to solve?

I then reformulate my question: who should be afraid of the new popular habitat act?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Luis Lozano-Paredes

Luis Lozano-Paredes is currently a student seeking a Diploma of Architecture and Urban Planning at Belgrano University in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Born in Colombia in 1987, he grew between the cities of Bogotá and Santiago de Cali, and then moved to Argentina in 2006. There, he finished the Common Basic Cycle of Architecture, Design, and Urbanism at the University of Buenos Aires before pursuing studies in Landscape Design at the same Institution. Inspired by the Urban Transformation of Bogotá in the past decades, his interests evolved from Landscape Architecture to his current passion; Urban Planning, Policy Making, and Sustainable Development. He plans to continue his studies in Urban Planning and Sustainability in Canada, Chile, or the U.S.; but for the moment he currently works as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Center of Metropolitan Transport Studies of the University of Buenos Aires and is a Member of the Observatory of Urban Sustainability at Belgrano University. Luis’ main interests lay within the study of Smart Cities, Urban Sustainable Development, and Social Architecture in Latin America.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 at 9:34 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Environment, Government/Politics, Housing, Land Use, Luis Lozano-Paredes, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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