„The Cost of Densification“ : Densification Processes and its Socio-spatial Effects in Santiago de Chile

University essay from KTH/Samhällsplanering och miljö

Author: Patrizia Kopp; [2018]

Keywords: ;

Abstract: As the title already says the thesis will examine the densification processes and its socio-spatial effects in Santiago de Chile. This thesis has been written in cooperation with a research internship at the Universidad Católica in Santiago at the institute of urban and regional studies. Santiago is the capital of Chile and is a city with one of the highest living standards compared to other South American cities. Santiago, as many other big cities, faces varied problems. Santiago, for example has a rapid population growth mainly through the migration from rural areas and other South American countries (Peru, Colombia, Venezuela). Other problems that Santiago faces are e.g. high resource consumption, air pollution, high number of individual motorisation and lack of green spaces. Especially the smog through the traffic is one of the biggest problems. Due to its location in a valley, Santiago suffers from a lot of air pollution. Santiago needs to further develop and expand its surface for housing. This results in urban sprawl, which has been the past and will be the future development. Through this urban sprawl a lot of residential areas were constructed further outside, on the edge of the city where commuting to the city takes more than 1.5 hours. As people want to live in the urban area of Santiago, they are taking this burden and move outside of the city. Thus the increasing land price makes it harder for low-income people to live closer to the city, as they simply cannot afford living there. Which leads to the topic of this thesis, namely the examination of socio-spatial effects through densification processes will be examined. The scale of the investigation is on a district-level and further research is done on specific building levels. This helps in getting more detailed information, as examining whole Santiago with its different municipalities is difficult and will give a blurry picture on the densification processes. The district, Quinta Normal has been selected for detailed investigation. Quinta Normal lies in the west of Santiago, bordering the district Santiago Centro. With its close proximity to the city centre, good public transport and cheaper land prices than in other parts of Santiago, it is attractive for prospective inhabitants. But due to the constant urban development the land prices are starting to increase as the district gets more attractive through the construction of metro stations. Quinta Normal is challenged by the arrival of high density buildings and new population with different income group. Quinta Normal is described as a district full of life where people established a community, interact and communicate with each other. Is this quality of social life threatened now through the arrival of high densification houses where people who are not originally from Quinta Normal are moving in and changing the structure of the district? Furthermore, there are many effects of segregation and this thesis chose to look at the change of the socio-economic structure in Quinta Normal. The district is mainly inhabited by middle to low-income families. This is a change from previously, when mostly low to very low-income people were living there. Nowadays there is a constant exchange between people moving to and from Quinta Normal. Thus, the future development of Quinta Normal is leading to a bedroom district where people rent an apartment but work in another part of the city. A density calculation has been made, which helps in understanding the effects of different building types on the social structure of the district. The buildings have been evaluated by size of apartment, price, accessibility, green areas, and security in order to give the reader the necessary explanation on the chosen houses and their differences. In summary, this thesis will try to examine the effects of densification processes in Quinta Normal with especially looking at newly constructed residential buildings and how those buildings interact with the existing urban but also social structure. Through a literature review, a characterisation of different types of buildings, a density calculation as well as interviews with the responsible people for the development of the district, an analysis of the effects on the social structure of the district will be attempted.

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