LabGov Costa Rica began this 2019 a project of Social Housing in collaboration with the Ministry of Housing and Human Settlements, and the real estate development council. The intention of this project is to apply the Co-City methodology in a collaborative experience between the academic sector, the public sector and private stakeholders.
The idea is born from the previous social housing LabGov approach, following the work presented at Matera with Federcasa in 2018. In this past encounter in fact a series of documents were generated around the idea of the “house as a common” that come to be the theoretical foundation, among others, of this project in Costa Rica.
The objective of the project is to propose a new Social Housing solution within the framework of an urban regeneration plan that integrates the design of common goods, applies the transect and mega-blocks model, reflecting the new urban values: compactness , participation, 24/7, pedestrian friendly, mixed use, and self-sufficient, in terms of consumption and production of energy, information, goods and services.
The project is promoted by the academy, under the guidance of the teacher of Urban Design courses and the Coordinators of Research and Extension of the School of Architecture at Universidad Latina, as well as those responsible for the project for the Ministry of Housing and Human Settlements. The work of those involved will be to follow up on the proposals that will be formulated through presentations, focus groups, talks and working groups to finally evaluate the possibility of applying the project.
One of the main strategies is taking advantage of land management instruments and international experiences in social housing.
For this, we are going to generate a novel proposal to solve the access to decent housing for populations in need (elderly, young people, people with disabilities) avoiding the discrimination that generate projects that are exclusively dedicated to these users; and thus respond to a new conception of the city, as was proposed in the New Urban Agenda presented in Habitat III, in Quito in 2016.
To achieve it, we propose a strategy so that the buildings offer a % of units for social housing even being designed for the middle class; this in order to reduce discrimination and integrate users’ social level and in the urban fabric.
The project implementation area is located in the center of the capital, San José, in the south area between the Sabana Metropolitan Park, and near the Pacific Railway Station, in Víquez Square, developing along a stretch of the railway line in a desolate area of particular abandonment. This is also due to the fact that originally it was an area for industrial use that no longer works as such, reason why the residential areas of south of San José have developed mostly to meet the need for workers’ residences. Although the blocks of small wooden houses are characteristic of an era and a social class, the abandonment has strongly affected this sector causing deterioration of buildings, insecurity and poor investment in public infrastructure.
The main challenge to redeem this sector is the image of the neighborhood, the anti-fame and the current absence of a real group of neighbors, who gradually moved away from the center. Despite this, the potential of this area is linked to the fact that it belongs to the historic center of the capital, is a well-served area, full of buildings that can be recovered, a use of mixed land ranging from residential, commercial, institutional and industrial past, as well as being located in one of the main axes of east-west mobility, both in private and public transport mode.
For this reason, both from the public sector, and from the private sector, there is an interest in redeeming the district, as well as intervening throughout the portion of the railway line between the Metropolitan Park and the square. This is related to certain public policies that today aim to strengthen the use of the train as an alternative transport in response to the increase in vehicular traffic.
In order to make a feasible proposal, the students started from the process of the Cheap talk and Mapping directly on site, summing up the perception of the spaces as the potential of the same with various meetings and surveys. So far, these first two stages of the “Co-City cycle” process involved more than 15 students, 3 experts in mobility and land management, a deputy minister and ministerial councilors, 2 university professors and several residents interviewed during the days (and evenings) of inspection.
Currently the project is in a Practicing phase with the support of Ministry technicians and the timely intervention of experts from the private sector – belonging to the chamber of real estate developers, working on a phase of co-creation of specific proposals of commons (both intervention, as well as new implementations) and mixed-use building development (offices, commerce, residential and public use).
It is projected to reach a more mature phase of Prototype of the master plan during the half of the current year, to then put the proposals to the test, in a Testing phase in front of a jury composed of experts in the sector, public, private sector and the civil society of the interested parties. The idea of turning a university course into a research laboratory where new urbanistic and architectural ideas are put to the service of citizenship, is not new in the international experience of LabGov, but what we propose for the first time is to co-design with all the actors involved an innovative project, both on the front of the design as on the legal source, that is to say the feasibility from the executive point of view, which depends on the public institutions and the interest of the companies.
 Monica Bernardi, Christian Iaione, Chiara Prevete, Home Pooling: Applying co-governance to the housing sector. And “Analisi empirica dell’innovazione nel finanziamento per le infrastrutture sociali (housing)”.