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Maestranza / Ukamau Comunity

Cristián Castillo Echeverría - Arquitectura

Santiago, Chile

November 2020


Cristián Castillo, Emilio Becerra, Pamela González


Matias Yachan


Ministerio de la Vivienda (Housing Ministery) - Serviu RM


Cristian Castillo E.


It was the first social housing project in Chile, since the coup d'état, in which the initiative was taken by the families, former inhabitants of the commune, grouped in the organization Ukamau. The families organized themselves, found a feasible plot of land and relied on a technical team in charge of the architectural and structural engineering project, free of charge. This participatory approach was disruptive and the Ministry of Housing was very reluctant to implement it. After a process of nearly 10 years, last November 2020, the project was finally inaugurated. The participatory model of social housing projects developed from the Maestranza experience has been an important reference for other cases, reinforcing the importance of the organization of "homeless" families in housing committees to seek solutions arising from their organizations. Currently, more than 20 housing projects are seeking to be carried out inspired by the Maestranza model.


Maestranza is a social housing project located in the heart of the city of Santiago, in the district of Estación Central, on the former land of the State Railway Company. The architectural project has a density of 700 ha/ha, the complex was designed as a condominium of 424 apartments of 62 m2 (3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, living room, and kitchen). The buildings have 5 floors that privilege horizontal circulation (which intertwines the whole complex) over vertical circulation, seeking a permanent relationship between neighbours on their routes to their homes. They are reinforced concrete buildings that maintain brick walls and a gable roof with a red tile roof as constituent elements of the old houses that their parents and grandparents lived in.


If something characterizes the experience of the families organized by Ukamau inhabiting the Maestranza Community, it is the pride of living in place of which each of them, all united, were a leading part of the whole process. This is manifested in the permanent progress of the community, in the permanent cooperation of other families so that they can organize and fight for decent housing, in the permanent work to maintain their buildings and common areas, in the internal organization for cleaning, garbage and garden work. They are the first group of vulnerable families who, in a unanimous decision, have decided to pay common expenses for the maintenance of their community, thus guaranteeing the painting and repair of equipment works of the condominium. It is also characteristic of this community the Christmas, New Year, anniversary and assemblies held in the central zócalo and that have an enormous acceptance and participation.

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