Architects Propose 120 Incremental Social Houses for Iquitos, Peru

Building and growing are two actions that should be considered more often than not at the same time. This is how the 2017 "Build to Grow" social housing competition, looked to establish bases that sustain a flexible way of living. The event took place in the Belén district in the city of Iquitos, on 3.7 hectares plot of land. The project that received first place proposed to locate 120 incremental homes, that alternatively allowed users to modify and expand it according to their needs and economic means. In short, a home with a solid nucleus formed by a structure that supports changing activities.

The national social housing competition was organized by the Peruvian Ministry of Housing, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Engineered Wood Association, and the Mi Vivienda Fund. The objective of the fifth edition was to contribute to the urban and architectural development of the country, through projects proposed by different experts in the field to generate urban proposals with a sustainable and preventive approach against the effects of natural disasters. The jury awarded innovative and economical proposals that have the possibility to grow, with a bioclimatic and eco-friendly focus.

The proposal from architects Rafael Arana Parodi, Carlos Suasnabar Martínez, Amed Aguilar Chunga, and Santiago Nieto Valladares, won the professional category, where more than 300 proposals were submitted by different teams nationwide. Likewise, it was awarded an honorable mention in the eco-sustainable category for creating comfort in the face of weather conditions with high solar incidence and high rainfall. Next, we present the details of the project. 

2_URBANO_AEREA. Image Cortesía de Rafael Arana

From the architects:

Urban Approach

We took on the contest by analyzing the current way social housing is executed in Peru, which is based on a purely quantitative approach, which gives predictable results and which limits the project to a repeated housing module as many times as necessary to occupy the land. This generates monotonous and fragmented neighborhoods that lack quality public spaces.

That is why our proposal has a mixed approach. It is quantitative because it meets technical objectives: it is modular, economical, progressive and easy to construct. And qualitative, because there is a certain unity when it is considered as a whole, while the location of the houses and the public spaces respond to the shape of the land and the urban fabric, this means that the project has different types of free spaces, such as malls, parks and squares, which are connected to each other, also integrating adjacent lots that seemed to be isolated.

1_URBANO_PLANTA. Image Cortesía de Rafael Arana

The houses are located in such a way that they contain public spaces, creating a large recreation area with an appropriate scale for the neighbors, making it safe place, while also allowing them to socialize with each other, and identify with their neighborhood. 

3_URBANO_PLAZA REDONDA. Image Cortesía de Rafael Arana

The Housing Module

The concept of the housing module is based on providing a nucleus of noble material with basic services, which is complemented by a wooden structure that will eventually contain the rest of the rooms.

0_PROCESO CONSTRUCTIVO_DIAGRAMA. Image Cortesía de Rafael Arana
1_UNIFAMILIAR 1 PISO_1. Image Cortesía de Rafael Arana
6_UNIFAMILIAR 1 PISO_6. Image Cortesía de Rafael Arana

The nucleus contains the social area of the house, the kitchen, and the bathroom, which are the only parts of the house that accommodates the water and drainage networks, and the main electrical network. The nucleus has a cross circulation that allows the house to grow on its 4 sides. The progressive stages are modular and flexible and permit the owner to choose their use and the type of material for the finish. The proposed design makes the progressive growth of the house always orderly since it is limited by the roof, creating a consolidated urban image. 

14_MODULO_SALA COMEDOR. Image Cortesía de Rafael Arana
15_MODULO_DORMITORIO. Image Cortesía de Rafael Arana

The one-floor module was proposed as a single-family home; and the two floor model as a single, or multi-family detached house.

1_MODULO_1PISO_1. Image Cortesía de Rafael Arana
9_MODULO_2PISOS_4. Image Cortesía de Rafael Arana

Environmental Strategy

The environmental challenge of designing housing in Iquitos is the excess sunlight and the excessive rain. The strategies to generate comfort in the midst of these conditions were the following:

First, for thermal comfort, the roof was created to function as an air collector, and as a buffer between the exterior and the interior. In addition to separating it from surfaces that capture heat, the floor was lifted above the ground surface.

11_MODULO_EXTERIOR INCOMPLETO. Image Cortesía de Rafael Arana
12_MODULO_EXTERIOR COMPLETO. Image Cortesía de Rafael Arana
13_MODULO_EXTERIOR COMPLETO LLUVIA. Image Cortesía de Rafael Arana

Secondly, to protect it from heavy rainfall, the roof is tilted to properly allows rain to evacuate, locating all the openings of the house under covered terraces.

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1_LAMINA PAISAJISMO. Image Cortesía de Rafael Arana
4_LAMINA PROPUESTA URBANA. Image Cortesía de Rafael Arana

Main architects: Rafael Arana Parodi, Carlos Suasnabar Martínez, Amed Aguilar Chunga, Santiago Nieto Valladares

Address: District of Belén, City of Iquitos.

Area: 37 000 m2

Year: 2017


1st Place Professional Category
Honorable Mention - Best Eco-sustainable Proposal

Sponsors: Ministry of Housing of Peru, Mi Vivienda Fund, U.S. Department of Agriculture, APA - The Engineered Wood Association

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About this author
Cite: Bayona, Delia. "Architects Propose 120 Incremental Social Houses for Iquitos, Peru" [Arquitectos proponen 120 viviendas sociales incrementales y flexibles para Iquitos, Perú] 23 Mar 2018. ArchDaily. (Trans. Gosselin, Marina) Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

GIF_MODULO_1PISO. Image Cortesía de Rafael Arana


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