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Urban Residence

Urban Residence: Housing and Social Transformations in Globalizing Ecuador

Christien Klaufus
Translated by Lee Mitzman
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 330
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  • Book Info
    Urban Residence
    Book Description:

    Riobamba and Cuenca, two intermediate cities in Ecuador, have become part of global networks through transnational migration, incoming remittances, tourism, and global economic connections. Their landscape is changing in several significant ways, a reflection of the social and urban transformations occurring in contemporary Ecuadorian society. Exploring the discourses and actions of two contrasting population groups, rarely studied in tandem, within these cities-popular-settlement residents and professionals in the planning and construction sector-this study analyzes how each is involved in house designs and neighborhood consolidation. Ideas, ambitions, and power relations come into play at every stage of the production and use of urban space, and as a result individual decisions about both house designs and the urban layout influence the development of the urban fabric. Knowledge about intermediate cities is crucial in order to understand current trends in the predominantly urban societies of Latin America, and this study is an example of needed interdisciplinary scholarship that contributes to the fields of urban studies, urban anthropology, sociology, and architecture.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-372-3
    Subjects: Sociology, Architecture and Architectural History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. vi-viii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  6. Introduction. Urban Living and Architecture
    (pp. 1-28)

    This study is about intermediate cities in the Andes region and about how different groups of urbanites occupy urban space: the city envisaged by architects and planners and the everyday city of residents and users. These two urban manifestations are basically impossible to distinguish from one another. In everyday life the conceived space, the used space, and the experienced space become intermingled (Lefebvre 1991). After all, the conceivers and makers of urban space may also be residents and users and vice versa. This book revolves around the city as a tangled and layered social space that is depicted and used...

  7. 1 Intermediate Andean Cities
    (pp. 29-62)

    Riobamba and Cuenca are two in a chain of intermediate cities (not including the capital Quito) in the Ecuadorian highlands, which are in the Andes. This mountain chain extends from the border with Colombia in the north to the one with Peru in the south. Riobamba is in the central part of Ecuador, south of Quito, about a four-hour bus ride from the capital. The city is situated at an altitude of 2,750 meters (9,022 feet), on a plateau surrounded by various mountains and volcanoes. The air is thin, the sunshine brighter than in the valleys, the nights are cold,...

  8. 2 Neighborhood Dialectics
    (pp. 63-102)

    In 1999 Cooperativa Santa Anita (Riobamba) did not seem like a neighborhood yet. It was basically a collection of stone “boxes” in the sand. The homes consisted of four walls, a flat roof, and lots of protruding steel reinforcements, heralding new construction operations. On the vacant stretches in between the homes, cows grazed, and pigs wandered about. Most of the people I saw were at the two central water taps, where groups of women gathered throughout the day to do their laundry in turns—they did not have running water at home. The streets were deserted and dusty. Ciudadela Carlos...

  9. 3 Habits in House Building
    (pp. 103-143)

    In 1999 Yadhira had a house built for her elderly mother on a lot in Cooperativa Santa Anita. In purchasing this lot, she violated official regulations (because she and her husband already owned one) to have her mother live nearby. The day Yadhira organized a minga to build the roof, her home was abuzz with activity by early morning. Relatives from her husband’s village had come to the neighborhood. As the minga organizer, Yadhira was responsible for providing her helpers with two nutritious meals that day. While the crew got to work on Yadhira’s mother’s plot, Yadhira and her mother...

  10. 4 Fashionable Homes
    (pp. 144-183)

    Gabriel from Ciudadela Carlos Crespi is a hat maker. Like some of his neighbors, he spends his days trimming stacks of panama hats intended for export. He was born and bred in the neighborhood. On the site owned by his family, which he shares with other heirs, he is building a new home, as we observed previously. In 2003 that house was inaugurated with a huasipichana ceremony before it was finished. At the time he still lived with his wife and children in a small mediagua at the back of the plot of land. He says that the new house...

  11. 5 Transformations in Cuencan Architecture
    (pp. 184-220)

    Over lunch at the Universidad de Cuenca cafeteria in late 2002, I spoke with two lecturers from the architecture faculty about several trends in local construction. We talked about various movements in local architecture, including neoclassicist, modernist, and neovernacular traditions. When our conversation turned to recent design trends, the frequently exaggerated design features of homes associated with migrant owners were mentioned. The architects explained that this trend of architectural opulence instigated extensive debate at the architecture faculty. We started discussing these debates. Fascinated with the subject and our riveting exchange, I said that I wanted to publish about the topic,...

  12. 6 Riobamba, Disordered City
    (pp. 221-255)

    In 2003 some architects in Riobamba invited me to a series of evening debates, organized by the regional chapter of the Colegio de Arquitectos. They addressed many different subjects relating to urban planning at these weekly gatherings, which were convened in response to the city’s unchecked spatial development. A core group of architects aimed to discuss these changes out of dissatisfaction with certain socio-spatial transformations that Riobamba had experienced in recent decades. The influx of rural migrants, the fear that the city would be “retaken” by indigenous people from the surrounding area, and the quest for a shared local identity...

  13. 7 The Ordinary City
    (pp. 256-283)

    Based on the opinions and experiences of many residents of working-class neighborhoods and professionals, I have tried in this study to explore some of the mechanisms driving the development of residential neighborhoods in provincial cities in Ecuador. In this chapter I present my empirical findings in an academic context. Before I proceed, I will summarize my findings thus far. I have explained that in social-geographical literature about self-build housing, many authors assert that homes and neighborhoods reflect steadily advancing consolidation. Based on my observations between 1999 and 2009, however, consolidation in my research neighborhoods did not reflect a steady increase....

  14. Appendix. Ethnographic Urban Research
    (pp. 284-290)
  15. Glossary
    (pp. 291-294)
  16. References
    (pp. 295-310)
  17. Index
    (pp. 311-314)