housing for the masses: microbarrio la colonia, 1914

Buenos Aires, Parque Patricios, Microbarrio La Colonia, 1914

Initially I hadn’t planned on writing about this particular housing project, but Friday I spent a couple hours at the Instituto Histórico & found an article about it written by the Institute back in 1987. Since there is relatively little info anywhere else about this, I thought I’d post it for anyone who might be interested.

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housing for the masses: casa chorizo

Buenos Aires, city block division

Of the many different solutions proposed & built to solve the Argentine housing crisis, it’s easy to forget how innovative they really were. We’re used to seeing modern versions as apartment complexes & condominiums. Big deal. But it was the first time that they had ever been built in Argentina. One hundred years ago in Buenos Aires, none of those types of living quarters existed. Zero.

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housing for the masses: microbarrio monseñor espinosa, 1923

Buenos Aires, Barracas, Microbarrio Monseñor Espinosa, 1923

Contrasting greatly with the previous complex, these semi-detached chalets are like a little piece of paradise. Also built with fundraising money from the Unión Popular Católica Argentina, land was donated by the Pereyra Iraola & Herrera Vega families. Gardens cut through 60 units in a cross shape, & note that this is not the size of a city block… but it’s about half of an overly large block. In fact, the odd shape is due to following the diagonal line of the existing layout. Designed by Carlos Cucullu, it has been wonderfully maintained & I would love to live there.

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housing for the masses: casa colectiva valentín alsina, 1919

Buenos Aires, Parque Patricios, Casa Colectiva Valentín Alsina, 1919

Inspired by the action of Azucena Butteler, numerous private & public schemes were proposed to acquire funds needed for housing projects. Some of the proposals were: government allocations directly controlled by Congress, a direct tax on Jockey Club members, or loans for low-income government employees underwritten by the Central Bank. It was finally decided that 75% of the Jockey Club’s profits from Thursday horse races were to be donated to a general housing construction fund. Money began to flow in, but how should the government use it?

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housing for the masses: microbarrio san vicente de paul, 1912

Buenos Aires, Nueva Pompeya, Microbarrio San Vicente de Paul,1912

Social assistance in Argentina was not limited to private donations like that of Azucena Butteler. One important group did as much as all other organizations combined—the Catholic church. Under the guidance of the Unión Popular Católica Argentina, nationwide fundraising drives gave Catholic organizations lots of cash to assist the poor. The government highly valued their contribution, mainly administered by women’s groups.

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