Two Million Homes: Everyday Life and Suburban Social Housing in Mexico

Christina Patiniou


The Global South is where the most rapid urbanisation process takes place today. In Mexico, new suburban neighbourhoods are being developed as a response to increasing demands for housing. Homogeneous housing blocks occupy large areas at the periphery of major cities. Recent urban policies and accessible lending schemes, allow for more of these developments to be built through a formal process rather that an informal one.

This paper raises questions about the design and implementation of the early low-income housing schemes built in Mexico after 2000. Standardisation in architecture as a response to affordable social housing and the ways in which the acts of everyday life challenge the design intentions are discussed through a literature review in social housing and neighbourhood design.

The first chapter discusses the rise of the new housing developments in Mexico and the involvement of the different stakeholders in their production. Incremental and formal housing as well as the aspirations between developer and community-led design are compared.

The second chapter addresses the concepts of home and neighbourhood, and the ways in which the urban environment is able to be transformed into community place where memories of daily activity are attached. Communities have the power to improve their environment if provided with the appropriate means.

The last chapter is an investigation into existing alternative approaches to the provision of social housing.

The paper aims to discuss the multi-disciplinary dimensions of social housing provision and the importance of a shift toward a practice in architecture that follows a bottom-up approach.