Matta Sur heritage and community center
Santiago, Chile
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Location:
Santiago, Chile
Category:
meeting place
Phase:
design development
Updated:
10 August 2021
Community organization in Chile has historically filled the gap between public policies and community wellbeing.
We look to provide a suitable community space within the traditional neighbourhood of Matta Sur  through community-based design and intervention. We will refurbish a traditional house into a community center in a protected area of Santiago to approach its current needs where various community initiatives converge and must have a place.
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Introduction
In 2019, a major social uprising took place in Chile in which citizens demanded better life conditions, equity and dignity. This reactivated historical community kitchens to provide food to urban dwellers through self-organized solidarity networks and motivated people to come together to generate new community based initiatives to provide dignity and wellbeing in all aspects of life. 

The Matta Sur neighbourhood in Santiago is one of the areas in which these community networks were activated. It stands in the center of a 9 million inhabitants city and houses historical inhabitants, families and - recently - migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean. Protected for its heritage value in 2016, it is one of the few areas within the city in which local lifestyles and community networks have not yet been crushed by urban development. It has a regular urban structure of wide streets framed by continuous facades. Buildings are predominantly one-storey homes, organized around a central courtyard, built with burnt bricks and traditional wood and raw earth systems.

In spite of the potential quality of urban spaces in Matta Sur, the neighbourhood still lacks community infrastructure. Parallelly, traditional building techniques have been discontinued and are often misunderstood, leading to poor interventions which deteriorate the quality of buildings and of liveable spaces. This, joined with the COVID-19 pandemic, creates an urgent need for comprehensive interventions.
Matta Sur neighbourhood Illustration

image: Ignacio Escobar | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Impact
Community organization in Chile has traditionally filled in a gap between public policies and community wellbeing, particularly in urban contexts. In times of scarceness and poverty, neighbours came together to strengthen their demands to different governments and to provide for basic services through strong solidarity networks. "Ollas comunes" or community kitchens which provide food to all who need it through self-organized food donations and cooking have been the strongest example of this community action ever since the saltpeter crisis in 1930 and were repeated frequently after, also today.

The Matta Sur community center will provide appropriate spaces to house community work, complying with COVID-19 measures while preserving a relevant example of traditional architecture within a protected area of the center of Santiago. This is achieved through the enlargement of exterior spaces, which recover the original architectural typology, as well as the refurbishment of inner spaces to allow for flexible surface distribution, therefore adapting the capacity of different rooms for different activities and to comply with sanitary measures. 

In parallel, open building workshops will allow the replication of appropriate technologies for the preservation of vernacular building techniques throughout a neighbourhood with a protected surface of 189 hectares within the city; which is mainly constructed with bricks, earth and wood. Additionally, a community-based design and management processes will strengthen community networks and capacities in an area of 10.000 inhabitants.
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Core team
The core team is composed of a diverse group of proactive neighbours, cultural and social organizations of Matta Sur assisted by a technical team of architects and architecture students of the University of Santiago of Chile (USACH) joint in the project “Heritage and community infrastructure” funded by the University. The design work for the adaptation of the community center for its diverse current use, has been developed jointly between the neighborhoods and the architecture team through meetings. 

"Junta de Vecinos Plaza Bogotá'' is the main social organization of the neighborhood and responsible for the community center infrastructure. Other organizations such as ‘Permacultura’ group, ‘Organizados’, the LGTB vegetable recovery collective, the cooperative ‘La Minga’, Heritage of Matta Cultural Center, the organization of San Antonio de Padua carnaval, among others use the community center and had been part of the design of the intervention. At the same time, these organizations carry out important work for the territory, distinguishing the community kitchen and the community cooking laboratory.

Architect Amanda Rivera, academic and specialist in earthen vernacular heritage is the leader of the design team and works constantly with Matta Sur neighbors and from other different towns and along the country. Together with architect Carmen Gómez, who is experienced in earth construction and heritage conservation. She has worked with communities in the assessment of their local heritage and in the development of a community museum in the rural area of Chanco.
Image gallery
Facade with "platabanda"

image: Amanda Rivera | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Talks about the new constitution in Community Center

image: JJVV Plaza Bogotá | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Earthen construction workshop

image: Cristian Muñoz | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Community kitchen "Olla común"

image: Amanda Rivera | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Vegetable recovery collective

image: Amanda Rivera | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Child workshop outside the community center

image: Amanda Rivera | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Street carnaval for the community kitchen in Matta Sur neighborhood

image: Amanda Rivera | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Vegetable recovery collective

image: Amanda Rivera | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Olla comun

image: JJVV plaza Bogota | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Olla Común

image: JJVV | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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San Antonio de Padua Carnaval (October 2020)

image: ESC CHILE | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Preparation of San Antonio de Padua Carnaval in community center

image: ESC CHILE | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Preparation of San Antonio de Padua Carnaval in community center

image: ESC CHILE | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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first collaborative work between the USACH school of architecture and Matta Sur Neighborhood

image: JJVV | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Children's day celebration

image: JJVV | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Community meeting

image: JJVV | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Earthen Construction worshop

image: Cristian Muñoz | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Earthen construction workshop

image: Cristian Muñoz | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Technical drawings
Front view

image: P&IC Project | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
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Floor plan

image: P | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
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Patio elevation

image: P&IC Project | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
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Longitudinal section

image: P&IC Project | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
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Longitudinal section

image: P&IC Project | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
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Longitudinal section

image: P&IC Project | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
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Longitudinal section

image: P&IC Project | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
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Cross section

image: P&IC Project | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
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Cross section

image: P&IC Project | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
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Cross section

image: P&IC Project | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
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Cross section

image: P&IC Project | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
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axonometric view

image: P | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
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Constructive axonometric view in detail

image: P&IC Project | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
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Detail

image: P&IC Project | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
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Material exploited axonometric

image: P&IC Project | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
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Location scheme inside the block

image: Ignacio Escobar | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
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Flexible Spaces Proposal Scheme

image: P&IC Project | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
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Flexible Spaces Proposal Scheme

image: P&IC Project | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
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Flexible Spaces Proposal Scheme

image: P&IC Project | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
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Flexible Spaces Proposal Scheme

image: P&IC Project | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
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Help bring our project to life!

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Help bring our project to life!
Where are we now
In July 2021, we have already developed the architectural design to refurbish the community center and we are about to start detailing and fundraising activities. We have already started the conceptualization of the design of public spaces around the community center and have yet to develop the specific design.

We have the capacity to finish all design requirements before October of 2021 and we hope to obtain state funding to build the first stage of the community center by January of 2022. This first stage will consider basic structural reinforcement of the community center and the enlargement of its open-air spaces.
An indication of our team’s capacity:
10% funding already raised
80% expertise already found
10% builders already found
Finance: € 45,000
Acquiring funding for our project will allow us to achieve our goal of providing a community space within Matta Sur, with open and flexible spaces to comply with the needs expressed by their neighbours; while completing a full restoration of a traditional building made with bricks, wood and earth. The relevance of a complete intervention is that it will allow not only for better liveable spaces, but also for the better appreciation of specific assets which contribute to the heritage value of buildings within Matta Sur.
The next stage will be the implementation of the toilets and the improvement of the patio so that it can be used as a meeting space. Then the kitchen amelioration and the introduction of flexible divisions in the rest of the community center.
  • Materials
  • 18,000
  • Local Builders
  • 24,000
  • Miscellaneous ( Tools, transport)
  • 2,000
  • Toilet implementation
  • 1,000
    Skills: Technique
    As it is a heritage construction, specific considerations in the intervention will be necessary. Technical support will be needed for the execution of the intervention of the different wooden elements, such as original doors and windows, as well as walls and earth terminations. In addition to the design of specific elements, such as permeable paving in the patio and prevention of xylophagous insects or other conditions
    Stuff: Materials, Equipment & tools
    Building materials or budget to purchase them are our current priority. We have established collaboration networks both with neighbours and schools in Santiago, which will allow us to begin with basic aspects of construction through volunteer work. While some materials such as earth and certain wooden elements from the existing building will be reused, others such as universally accessible doors and larger windows must be purchased, as well as materials for the restoration and reinforcement of structural, functional and aesthetic elements.
    Hands
    Once we achieve the necessary budget to cover for building materials, we will appreciate the participation of volunteer builders. Volunteer builders who participate in the project will benefit from specific knowledge on traditional building and restoration techniques of wooden and earthen materials, while joining a team of proactive neighbours, architects and students.

    The communities will benefit both from the cultural and experience exchange with newcomers, as well as with the materialization of the complete project of the new Matta Sur community center.
    Earthen cosntruction workshop

    image: Cristian Muñoz | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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    Help bring our project to life!
    Location
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