Three Years in Villa Verde, ELEMENTAL’s Incremental Housing Project in Constitución, Chile

Where were you when it happened? On February 27, 2010 an 8.8-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck Chile, causing destruction across the country. Ask any Chilean what they were doing at the time, and they will have a story to tell.

Oriana Pinochet Villagra and her family were in Constitución when the ground started to shake. A town centered around the forestry industry, Constitución is surrounded by green mountains, and situated where the Maule river meets the Pacific Ocean.

It was one of the cities most affected by the earthquake in 2010. The ocean water flooded the river, wrecking everything that the earthquake hadn’t already destroyed. Those that lived along the riverbank were left in the street with mud burying their houses -- Oriana's family lost 30 years of memories.

Almost six years after the natural disaster, we visited Constitución where Oriana Pinochet showed us one of the major reconstruction projects in the city: Villa Verde Housing, a residential neighborhood for 484 of the affected families. With partial financing from housing subsidies and based on the idea of incremental housing, the project is designed by ELEMENTAL, the “Do Tank” of 2016 Pritzker Prize laureate, Alejandro Aravena

Audiovisual Editor: Manuel Albornoz
Interview and storyline: Nicolás Valencia
Special thanks to Natalia Elgueta and Oriana Pinochet.

This story was originally written in Spanish for ArchDaily en Español and translated into English by Katie Watkins

Cite: Nicolás Valencia. "Three Years in Villa Verde, ELEMENTAL’s Incremental Housing Project in Constitución, Chile" 18 Jan 2016. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>