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International Journal of Housing Policy

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User-based design for inclusive urban

transformation: learning from ‘informal’ and
‘formal’ dwelling practices in Guayaquil, Ecuador

Olga Peek, Michaela Hordijk & Viviana d'Auria

To cite this article: Olga Peek, Michaela Hordijk & Viviana d'Auria (2018) User-based
design for inclusive urban transformation: learning from ‘informal’ and ‘formal’ dwelling
practices in Guayaquil, Ecuador, International Journal of Housing Policy, 18:2, 204-232, DOI:

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Published online: 19 Jan 2017.

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International Journal of Housing Policy, 2018
Vol. 18, No. 2, 204–232,

User-based design for inclusive urban transformation: learning

from ‘informal’ and ‘formal’ dwelling practices in Guayaquil,
Olga Peek *, Michaela Hordijkc and Viviana d’Auriab
Department of Architecture and Urbanism, University of Guayaquil, Guayaquil, Ecuador;
Department of Architecture, OSA Research Group Urbanism and Architecture, KU Leuven,
Leuven, Belgium; cDepartment of Human Geography, Planning and International
Development Studies, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

In Latin American cities, modes of housing and settlement production are

rapidly shifting with city-making becoming an increasingly unequal
process. While the Latin American region was once a cradle for ground-
breaking research on incremental urban development, more recent housing
policies have radically disengaged from incremental dwelling typologies
and socially engaged design practices. Taking a people-centred approach,
this article documents the ways in which urban dwellers contribute to the
production of the urban environment in Guayaquil, the largest city of
Ecuador. Grounded in an intensive case study methodology, the inquiry
focuses on the ways in which users resourcefully transform, adapt or
contest space at the micro and the meso scales in both consolidated low-
income settlements and state-led resettlement housing projects, most
commonly present in the consolidating city of Guayaquil today. On this
basis, the study examines how and to what extent spontaneously produced
dwelling environments may inform new formal housing arrangements in
the city and vice versa. It reflects on key principles for a new set of
housing policies and design strategies suggesting the cultivation of a
‘variety of choices’ and draws attention to user-based design and housing
mechanisms that foster inclusive urban transformation.
Keywords: incremental housing; consolidated low-income settlements; govern-
ment housing; user-based adaptations; resettlement; Ecuador

Stemming from the concern for growing inequality in Latin American cities (UN
Habitat, 2014) where social inequality is strongly linked with access to housing for
the urban poor and the lack thereof (Rolnik, 2014), this paper reflects upon emerg-
ing housing inequality trends in the city of Guayaquil and in the Latin American

*Corresponding author. Email:

Ó 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

International Journal of Housing Policy 205

region more generally. In a context of rapid urban transformation and increasing

social exclusion, modes of housing production and pro-poor housing policy have
radically shifted away from user-based design and incremental dwelling typologies.
This is particularly true for Guayaquil, where support for incremental housing strat-
egies has largely disappeared in a highly unequal city that features a Gini-coeffi-
cient of 0.41 and an income gap whereby the urban rich gains 19 times more than
the urban poor (SENPLADES, 2015, p. 26).
To engage with these emerging trends, the study examines two settlements
that epitomise the particular modes of contemporary housing production in
Guayaquil: the consolidated low-income settlement Suburbio and state-led reset-
tlement housing project Socio Vivienda II. These two housing narratives are set in
tension with one another to investigate to what extent – and in what way – ele-
ments from incremental development may inform new formal housing arrange-
ments and vice versa in order to encourage socially supportive housing design
along with qualitative urban densities at the meso scale. Following a diachronic
understanding of the two settlements, they are looked at synchronically in the light
of the most characteristic feature of Guayaquil’s current urban development,
namely the mega-project Guayaquil Ecol ogico relocating inhabitants from densely
populated urban waterfronts in consolidated low-income neighbourhoods to
peripheral resettlement housing. Looking beyond mono-dimensional modes of
city-making and as alternative to current financialisation of housing markets (Rol-
nik, 2013), this study reflects on key principles for a new set of housing policies
and design strategies suggesting the cultivation of a ‘variety of choices’ (Hamdi,
2008) and draws attention to user-based design and housing mechanisms that fos-
ter inclusive urban transformation.
This article will first look back at the range of studies from the Global
South that have contributed to the development of methods in which human
settlements are increasingly apprehended in a multi-disciplinary and multi-sca-
lar manner (d’Auria, De Meulder, & Shannon, 2010). Correspondingly, through
two particular housing narratives in Guayaquil, it builds further on new and
ignored evidence of incremental housing strategies and user-initiated transfor-
mations in formerly informal urban areas and in the consolidating city threat-
ened by mega-project development. After a short interpellation on how mega-
projects are currently being implemented in Guayaquil and how households
from Suburbio are resettled in Socio Vivienda, the article continues with an in-
depth analysis on the micro and meso scale of both dwelling environments,
concluding with a reflection on key trends of home transformation involved in
contemporary dwelling practices to see what lessons can still be learned from
them for future housing policies. The presented outcomes help chart emerging
urbanisms and provide insight in how far urban life can flourish in particular
conditions of spatial production.
206 O. Peek et al.

Methodology: multi-dimensional reading of dwelling practices

This study builds on an adapted version of the ‘intensive case-study method’ as
espoused by Ward, Jimenez, and Virgilio (2014) and the Latin American Housing
Network (LAHN). The intensive case method deploys various techniques from mul-
tiple disciplines for inquiry into household dynamics and home transformation in
consolidated low-income settlements. Making mention of similar techniques used in
pioneer studies of Urban Dwelling Environments (Caminos, Turner, & Steffian,
1969), the method involves data collection (based upon fieldwork, various visits and
interviews) of family genealogies, household organisation and mobility patterns of
the users (timeline family trajectories) combined with detailed house plans and
build-out diagrams of home transformation processes (timeline house trajectory).
In-depth case study documentation used in the LAHN method (6–8 per city) com-
plements multi-level data including geographic information system (GIS) data and
household surveys in various selected settlements for comparative analysis (Ward
et al., 2014). In this study – that resorts to single researchers in the field rather than
a research team of professionals from various disciplines and professional back-
grounds – house plans, home trajectories and family trajectories constituted the
focus of the intensive case studies. These were compared with historical city maps
and secondary socio-economic data and complemented with urban tissue analysis
using spatial documentations and mappings made in the field.
Urban tissue analysis allows for the denotation of urban areas and neighbour-
hoods as an organic whole in respect of complexity and multi-dimensionality of
city-making. The notion of urban tissue strongly relates to the production of urban
form and environmental production, with an important role given to morphology
and typology. It usually refers to an environmental level commonly associated with
urban design, where neighbourhood morphologies (open spaces and buildings) are
set in relation to human activity (programme and functions), and thus also impacts
mixity, conviviality and overall quality of life (Kropf, 1996; Oliveira, 2016). By
separating out the dimensions that compose urban settlements either by scale or by
disciplinary bias, one risks losing the multi-dimensionality that makes urban tissue
analysis so crucial to well-being in cities.
This article is based on the findings of 23 cases, 15 in the consolidated low-
income settlement under eviction Suburbio and 8 from the government resettlement
housing project Socio Vivienda II (see Table 1). A ‘case’ is constituted by ‘self-built
dwelling(s) inhabited by nuclear or extended families in Suburbio’ and ‘ready-made
dwelling(s) inhabited by (part of) nuclear or extended families relocated from Sub-
urbio’. In Suburbio, cases were selected on divergent and convergent characteristics
of the house, its spatial arrangements and the physical home transformation process
(e.g. lot dimensions, layout, building materials, number of floors, home or lot subdi-
visions, entrance ways and economic and productive activities performed in the
house). As the design of Socio Vivienda commenced from a single typology of
Table 1. Intensive cases.

Case Household characteristics Spatial arrangements

Subdivisions vs. Economic productive

No. Name N(X) Lot and dwelling(s) Families transformations activities

Batallon del Suburbio

[01] Aviles family 2 Concrete dwelling C one-storey First gen. household C External staircase After-school care,
wooden mezzanine second gen. daughter and carpentry (in house)
[02] Perez family 1 Single-storey concrete home Father C daughter with her Apartment made separate for _
fully constructed lot family father
[03] Gomez family 5 Various single- and multi-storey Couple married in Various dwellings on Dressmaker, window
homes, mainly concrete, one neighbourhood C both of individual lots, few frames (ind. space)
cane house parents and brothers subdivisions of homes
[04] Ramırez family 1 Single-storey dwelling cement Single mother, five grown-up Single-family house, _
[22] cane, lot on waterfront half children with their mezzanine
filled families, some left to
Socio Vivienda
[05] Alvarado family 2 Two-storey dwellings, concrete Brother C sister and their Eight-metre-wide lot Copias in windowsill
structure families living on lot subdivided in two of 4 m
adjacent to mother width
[06] Castillo family 1 Superblock, 30 m deep lot, Multi-family households Various individual dwellings _
various cement houses single on same lot
and multi-storey
Estero Salado – Suburbio
[07] Andrade family 2 (1) Multi-storey dwellings C cane Multi-family households C Multi-storey single-family _
[20] house (evicted) kin living across the street home C subdivisions in
‘los aires’
International Journal of Housing Policy

C mother in SV
[08] Cevallos family 2 (1) One- and two-storey Multi-family households, lot Horizontal lot subdivisions, Fishery at waterfront –
[19] consolidating dwellings sharing, kin in street interior patio dressmaker

Table 1. (Continued )

Case Household characteristics Spatial arrangements

Subdivisions vs. Economic productive

No. Name N(X) Lot and dwelling(s) Families transformations activities

[09] Sanchez family 1 Superblock, lot 8 £ 40 m with 30 Multi-family household, Massive construction of _
m deep concrete dwelling, return migrant single-family house, no
O. Peek et al.

backyard patio subdivisions

[10] Mercado family 2 (4) Single- and two-storey homes on Multiple muti-family Spiral external staircase C Neighbourhood
[17] adjacent lots C (cane houses households single-family homes organisation, fishery,
on stilts) private parking
[11] Magaly’s family 1 Cane house above water, bamboo Single mother and her young _ _
catwalk entrance children (renter)
Puntilla del Salado - Suburbio
[12] Chavez family 2 Two-storey full painted house Brothers in same street – Vertical subdivision external Copias
patio in front multi-family households staircase
[13] Mu~noz family 2 Small lots in alleyway, two- Multi-family households Single-family homes (no Grocery, animal breeding,
storey concrete dwellings subdivisions) carpentry
[14] Qui~nonez family 1 Multi-storey dwelling Renters Various subdivisions _
[15] Estrada family 1 Fully constructed lot, two-storey Pioneer dweller – multi- No subdivisions (entrance School supplies, baby
concrete dwelling family household house through shop) clothing
El Pelıcano - Socio Vivienda
[16] Santamarıa family 1 Standardised one-storey back-to- Multi-family household, son Window bars, front _
back row house returned to Suburbio extension, enclosures
[17] Mercado family 6 Multiple dwellings, back-to- Multiple third and fourth Enclosures frontside, Hairdressing (in living
[10] back, row end and middle generation households removing of interior walls room, on sidewalk)
[18] Diana and Galo 1 Standardised one-storey back-to- Single-family household Enclosure of shared patio Shop school supplies
back row house from Suburbio backyard, window bars sweets (living room)
[19] Carlos and 1 Dwelling abandoned Young couple, returned to Removed windows, doors _
Clemencia [08] Suburbio and window bars

Table 1. (Continued )
Case Household characteristics Spatial arrangements

Subdivisions vs. Economic productive

No. Name N(X) Lot and dwelling(s) Families transformations activities

El Delfın - Socio Vivienda

[20] Andrade family 1 Standardised one-storey back-to- Multi-family household Window bars, interior _
[07] back row house painting, enclosure patio
[21] Calderon family 1 Standardised one-storey back-to- Multi-family household Front extension, removal _
back row house original facade, enclosure
[22] Ramırez family 2 Adjacent row houses Second generation children Preparations for front _
[04] from Batall
on Suburbio extension, window bars
[23] Nancy and Juan 1 Standardised one-storey back-to- Single-family household Front extensions, window Grocery store in home
Pablo back row house bars, Patio enclosure extension

Most names of respondents have been changed for reasons of anonymity and confidentiality.

N refers to the number of dwellings inhabited by the extended families of different generations within the street or block, (X) are demolished and evicted
homes in Suburbio.
International Journal of Housing Policy
210 O. Peek et al.

one-storey row houses with a similar floor plan that was applied to all dwelling
units in the programme, cases were selected on the basis of varied spatial transfor-
mations and user-based adaptations made to the original floor plan (e.g. extensions
made to the basic unit, moving and breaking out of interior walls and changes made
to the building layout, enclosures added to the house, interior and exterior finish-
ing). The selection was done on the basis of the researchers’ observations on site
and semi-structured interviews held in the field. For each case, we combined spatial
analysis techniques using on-site sketching, photography and mapping with in-
depth interviews held among multiple members of the household, articulating spa-
tial and social features in the data collection at the micro and meso scales.
We have used additional interviews and extensive participant observation in
both sites, as well as in 14 events of collective action and mobilisation against the
eviction and negotiation with local authorities. Data were gathered between April
2014 and August 2015. The article furthermore builds on findings from the interna-
tional summer school ‘Designing Inclusion’ held in Guayaquil in July 2015
(d’Auria et al., 2015), which specifically inform the alternatives for the meso level
as presented in this article.

Learning from Latin American dwelling practices

As Latin American cities have been largely self-built, self-help was for decades
the dominant and often only way in which the urban poor gained access to the
desired ‘home of one’s own’ in the city (Gilbert, 1994; Moser, 1982). The early
stages of incremental city-making are well documented by a wide range of schol-
ars (Caminos et al., 1969; Matos Mar, 1977; Turner, 1967). Their influential work
draws largely on experiences from the Latin American context and has informed
important housing policy shifts, with (assisted) self-help becoming gradually
accepted as an alternative solution for providing adequate shelter for low-income
groups on a world scale (Stein, 1991; Ward, 2012).1 This provided global opportu-
nities for the flourishing of sites-and-services projects, community-based design
and incremental dwelling typologies.2 An early experience from the Latin Ameri-
can region is the Programa Experimental de Vivienda in Lima (1969), a highly
influential endeavour for the evolution of ideas on low-rise high-density housing
with possibilities for incremental expansion. Design-based approaches for afford-
able and incremental housing have nevertheless perished to a great degree
(Mukhija, 2014). Since the mid-1990s, support for incremental housing was no
longer a prime concern in policy agendas worldwide, with approaches shifting
towards market-led housing strategies. Relatedly, many sites-and-services and
upgrading programmes gradually disappeared. This trend was also strongly associ-
ated with a decline in international funding for which housing had become a sec-
ondary priority due to its complex and long-term production processes that were
difficult to monitor (Wakely & Riley, 2011). Various projects and initiatives for
International Journal of Housing Policy 211

in situ upgrading and community-based design were maintained, yet without the
same systematic support as before.3
Additional academic scrutiny of the transformative capacity of incremental
dwelling practices across the globe has shown how aided self-help and incremental
housing still hold potential for housing the urban poor today (Garcıa-Huidobro,
Torres, & Tugas, 2008; Goethert, 2010; Hamid & Mohamed, 2014; Tipple, 2000).
Yet, since our understanding and conceptualisation of urban life requires constant
revision, a reassessment of original housing strategies is crucial in order to appre-
hend if original theories are still valid in current times (Jacobs & d’Auria, 2010).
Incremental development schemes and land access in the city are furthermore chal-
lenged by the fact that land is becoming an increasingly limited resource. In the
Latin American region, considered 80% urbanised (UN Habitat, 2016), this scarcity
is particularly preoccupying.

Contemporary dwelling practices in Latin American cities

In the five decades of spontaneous city-making in major Latin American cities, for-
merly informal settlements (mainly established between the 1960s and 1980s) have
evolved into consolidated neighbourhoods that are integrated to a large extent into
inner city districts. They commonly comprise high densities and now host major
parts of the urban population (Ward, Jimenez, & Virgilio, 2015). In order to accom-
modate subsequent generations, spatial arrangements increasingly take the form of
subdivisions and extensions of pioneer homes. This trend is fundamentally linked
with the transformations of single-family homes into multi-household dwellings.
Limits to this process of urban consolidation have also been identified, especially
as the threat of degradation of the dwelling (tugurizaci
on) and overcrowding (haci-
namiento) overshadow the benefits of densification (Peek, 2015; Tokeshi, Zolezzi,
& Noriega, 2005). Home sharing, an increasingly common trend in Latin America
and Guayaquil, might lead to conflicts over space and its uses as well as its future
uses (Hordijk, 2015). The many years of inhabitation in consolidated low-income
settlements require reappraisal in relation to different social and spatial scales,
including an understanding of the dwelling evolution itself, to a reflection on neigh-
bourhood dynamics (Ward et al., 2015).
Current modes of settlement production have radically shifted towards monoto-
nous cost-and-time-efficient low-income housing delivery rooted in a market-
driven approach that is inscribed in neo-liberal reforms (Moser & Stein, 2014).
Following the policy recommendations of the Washington Consensus (World
Bank, 1993), private developers became increasingly involved in housing delivery
(Murray & Clapham, 2015; Rolnik, 2013). This has given rise to an array of large-
scale residential programmes that have drastically reshaped urban edges and dwell-
ing landscapes across various Latin American cities (Harner, Jimenez, & Cruz,
2009; Klink & Denaldi, 2014). Though the formal housing supply may have
212 O. Peek et al.

expanded significantly, mass-housing schemes fail to provide housing in a sustain-

able and equitable way because of their socio-economic constraints as well as their
lack of proximity to urban opportunities (Angelil & Hehl, 2014; Monkkonen,
Urban consolidations through so-called ‘informal’ and ‘formal’ dwelling practi-
ces have been in tension with each other at all times (Holston, 2008). Informal
urbanisation has been recognised as a principal mode of city-making in which urban
dwellers play a key role as urban transformation actors (Roy, 2005). Informal settle-
ments, however, remain largely misunderstood in both their evolution and everyday
life practices (Lombard, 2014). In the Latin American city, ‘formal’ and ‘informal’
development processes have followed specific iterations, whereby a multiplicity of
spontaneous settlements were variably recognised, upgraded or allowed to prolifer-
ate before becoming again subject to transformation, including forced relocation.
Yet, the interplay and coexistence of both forms are currently unbalanced, since on-
going urban development is largely taking place through private entrepreneurship
(Rolnik, 2014; Strauch, Takano, & Hordijk, 2015). Borders between settlements
are hardening due to shifting land markets and changing land appropriations by
low-income groups (Ward, 2009). As a result, the persisting contraposition between
self-built and formally provided settlements has profound implications for urban
form and social justice as spaces and people become increasingly disconnected.

Guayaquil’s fragmented urban dwelling landscape

As Ecuador’s main port and largest city, Guayaquil is an exemplary site to observe
how emerging housing inequalities unfold in an exceedingly fragmented urban
dwelling landscape and vulnerable estuarine setting. As a 70% self-built city (El
Expreso, 2016), urbanisation occurred for the most part spontaneously into estuar-
ies and creeks, which required infill before consolidation could take place.4 This
condition makes Guayaquil highly vulnerable to floods and the third most endan-
gered city in the world by sea level rise (Hallegatte, Green, Nicholls, & Corfee-
Morlot, 2013). Guayaquil has been acknowledged as a key arena for understanding
large-scale spontaneous development (Moser, 1982), and longitudinal studies have
recently showcased the potential of ‘informal’ housing as a basic resource that
allowed the urban poor to accumulate other assets over time (Moser, 2009). How-
ever, community-based design is largely absent in Guayaquil with professionals
increasingly stepping aside from socially engaged practices (Carofilis, Peek, &
d’Auria, 2016). In the city’s recent housing policy shifts, formal mass-housing
delivery is largely privileged over support for incremental modes of urban consoli-
dation (Klaufus & Cedres, 2014). The forced relocation of urban dwellers
from self-build neighbourhoods to various large-scale low-income housing projects
(e.g. Ciudad Victoria, Socio Vivienda II) epitomises the definitive abandonment
International Journal of Housing Policy 213

by national and municipal governments of bottom-up approaches for the city’s

co-production, further augmenting inequalities in Guayaquil’s urban landscape.
The last generation of policies enforcing relocation has been shaped in the con-
text of the waterfront redevelopment project known as Guayaquil Ecol ogico (2010–
present). Marked by the term ‘ecological’, the project aims to quantitatively
increase the green area per inhabitant to reach WHO-indicated standards through
the construction of a 40-km-long linear park (MAE 2010). It involves forced reloca-
tion targeting vulnerable communities who have resided in self-build settlements
for over 3–5 decades to government housing located in the remote urban periphery.
Guayaquil Ecol ogico was preceded by several other waterfront redevelopments,
with urban renewal in the city centre inaugurated by the Malec on 2000. This project
took the form of a promenade along the river Guayas and was expected to ‘recover
a lost relationship with the river’ as well as the history and identity of Guayaquil
itself ( Delgado, 2011). Aligned with the contemporary rise of mega-project ortho-
doxy in Latin America (Kennedy et al., 2014; Rolnik, 2014; Strauch et al., 2015),
the Malec on ‘syndrome’ was soon extended to other parts of the city with the
implementation of the Playita del Guasmo in 2004 and the Malec on del Salado in
2006 (see Figure 1). As the Guayaquil Ecol ogico epitomises, these waterfront
developments place great emphasis on city beautification (Allan, 2011), but fail to
adopt an integrated approach to urban transformation and neglect the social-cultural
dynamics of sites.

Two housing narratives of Guayaquil

Narrative I: incremental city-making in Guayaquil’s first suburbs (1960s–1980s)
Guayaquil’s urban area originally expanded into the municipal swamplands during
the 1960s and 1970s. Here, in the area which came to be known as Suburbio, pio-
neer urban dwellers attempted to escape from overcrowded rooms in the city centre
(conventillos), in search for a ‘home of one’s own’ (Moser, 2009). Through the
piecemeal reclamation and infill of marshland, many pioneer residents succeeded
in purchasing a piece of land (or water) from middlemen and became homeowners.
Thanks to the ever-evolving edge between water and city, many children success-
fully gained access to a lot near their parents’ home. As a result, extended families
often live within the same street or manzana (block).
In a process of spontaneous settlement formation, the urban fabric was gradu-
ally built up and subsequently structured and serviced in the long course of collec-
tive action, popular struggles and waves of upgrading by public authorities. Since
the 1960s, the district transformed almost unrecognisably from its earlier estuarine
condition to the city’s ‘first suburb’. Perilous catwalks above the water have pro-
gressively transformed into serviced and paved roads. Along with the structuring
and servicing of the neighbourhood, incipient bamboo homes on stilts have been
214 O. Peek et al.

Figure 1. Three generations of waterfront renewal in Guayaquil, municipal-led projects

Malecon 2000 (top), Malec on del Salado (middle) and linear parks of Guayaquil Ecol ogico
(bottom) that epitomise latest trend of ministry-led Buen Vivir ecological mega-projects.
Source: Images by Olga Peek.

incrementally upgraded from single-family homes to multi-storey apartments.

These multi-household homes of brick are what constitute and reshape the highly
dense urban fabric of Suburbio today. The estuarine landscape has become a
densely populated area with a variety of dwelling types, lot sizes and amenities.
Suburbio is surrounded by water and embraces over 25 km of waterfronts, either
along the tight estrangulamientos (narrow creeks) or on the edge of the wider estu-
ary. Suburbio evolved into a major city district of Guayaquil, now accommodating
a total population close to half a million people, or 20% of the total urban
International Journal of Housing Policy 215

Comparably to consolidated low-income settlements in other Latin American

cities, Suburbio’s self-organised densification has engendered an array of self-built
dwelling arrangements and housing typologies that offer certain flexibility as well
as opportunities for self-employment and incremental upgrading. Urban typologies
and morphologies (e.g. size of lots and houses, width of streets, squares and open
spaces) are closely connected with the socio-economic evolution of a site in which
gradually developed urban tissue is generally more persistent than recently formed
normative ones (De Meulder & Heynen, 2006).
However, within a setting featuring rapid urbanisation and globalisation, radical
changes can easily be observed in public space. The use of cars has significantly
increased. Furthermore, insecurity, deterioration of large-scale public spaces, a
poorly maintained water management system (e.g. rainwater drainage) and the col-
lapsing of urban infrastructures undermine the overall quality of the dwelling envi-
ronment. As many other ‘innerburbs’ in the Latin American region, Suburbio is in
dire need of a new generation of housing policies that consider the specific issues
of consolidated self-build environments (Ward et al., 2015). Nonetheless, current
housing production in Ecuador comes mainly in the form of gated communities
based on the participation of the private sector and a subsidy system aligned with
current financialisation trends (Klaufus & Cedres, 2014). A more diversified and
affordable set of options, including rental and cooperative housing, is for the
moment largely absent, in spite of upcoming discussions on the New Urban Agenda
(UN Habitat, 2016).

Narrative II: low-income mass-housing in Guayaquil’s new urban periphery

Formal housing provision in Guayaquil’s emerging urban periphery is therefore
characterised by a strong participation of public–private interests. After the turning
point of 1997, when El Ni~ no5 struck the country heavily, that triggered migration
and raised urgent concerns for shelter, the city expanded extensively through large-
scale housing schemes delivered through formal involvement. A reform made it
possible for the municipality to initiate large-scale expropriation and land legalisa-
tion procedures to support formal housing provision processes (Municipality of
Guayaquil, 1998). By the turn of the century, the first municipal mass-housing
scheme Mucho Lote I (2002–2005) was developed as a sites and services scheme
(lotes con servicios), though housing was sold by private developers rather than
being self-built or assisted. Variations of this approach were implemented in the
Mucho Lote II and Mi Lote schemes in northern Guayaquil in 2010 and 2011,
respectively (Delgado & De Troyer, 2011).
From the late 1990s until 2007, national state involvement in housing provision
followed the path of neo-liberal arrangements and remained minimal. After Rafael
Correa was elected President in 2007, attention for affordable housing provision
216 O. Peek et al.

was again considered on the national policy and planning agendas. With the launch
of the Revoluci on Urbana (Urban Revolution) under the aegis of the Buen Vivir
national plan, the government aimed for a socialist reconstruction of Ecuadorian
society giving central attention to the right for all citizens to a dignified home (viv-
ienda digna) (SENPLADES, 2013). The Ecuadorian state expressed the ambition
to restore social-interest housing markets by pumping 660 million USD – 30 times
more than previous government contributions – into tackling the country’s housing
shortage (Klaufus & Cedres, 2014). The aspiration was soon manifested in a pub-
lic–private partnership leading to the construction of several large-scale housing
programmes in Guayaquil such as Socio Vivienda I, implemented in 2010. This
enterprise also includes the latest cases of housing schemes built for the forcibly
relocated residents of self-build neighbourhoods including Suburbio, namely Ciu-
dad Victoria (2012) and Socio Vivienda II (2013).

Socio Vivienda II
The national government’s low-income housing programme, Socio Vivienda, has
the goal to provide 13.700 new dwellings for Guayaquil before 2017 (MIDUVI,
2012). The initial phase (Socio Vivienda I) featuring 2817 units was completed in
2010. The second phase of the housing programme that is the subject of study in
this paper, involved 3027 dwelling units and was completed in 2013. The final
phase (Socio Vivienda III) is currently under construction.
The housing schemes in Socio Vivienda II comprise 39 m2 back-to-back one-
storey row housing that is constructed with a government resettlement subsidy
(Bono de Reasentamiento) of 13.500 USD. Users contribute 900 USD through
monthly payments of 15 USD spread over a period of five years. For the construc-
tion of Socio Vivienda II, the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing (MID-
UVI) purchased a territory of 238 hectares in a controversial procurement from the
Institute of Social Security and Armed Forced.6 To prepare the ground, a large area
of woodlands that were part of a natural reserve had to be deforested. Furthermore,
the terrain was assigned as agricultural property by municipal law, restricting land
subdivisions and large-scale housing construction. The regulations were soon
changed in order to make the construction possible.7 However, the waste and storm
water installation plan for the housing programme was disapproved by the munici-
pality due to the under-dimensioned discharge capacity of the piping for the amount
of dwellings as well as the plan’s shortfall in rainwater drainage in the flood-prone
area. Construction led by the central government and private construction compa-
nies nevertheless proceeded. In the absence of legal land titling, building permits
and piped water provision, the first people were relocated in the project in 2013.
According to the MIDUVI, titles will be granted in five years, when users finish
paying their monthly contribution of 15 USD.
International Journal of Housing Policy 217

The monotonous spaces of Socio Vivienda II are in stark contrast with the con-
solidated urban fabric that is shaped over time by a density of diverse people,
spaces and activities that ultimately constitute urbanity (Loeckx & Shannon, 2004).
Unsurprisingly, as a result of this segregation from urban opportunities, social and
spatial deterioration as well as insecurity, problems were soon announced in the
low-income housing programme. Hence, the state’s ambition to ensure a ‘quality of
living’ did not hold. The Ministry-dispensed spaces of Socio Vivienda II are
increasingly a topic for contestation from below, which questions the quality of
such normative spaces, and the obvious lack of decent education, job opportunities,
services and infrastructure as well as the exclusion of inhabitants from its

From incremental neighbourhoods to the urban periphery and back: dwelling

strategies of families under eviction
Formerly informal and currently consolidated settlements are increasingly sensitive
urban places vulnerable to displacement and gentrification (Guevara & Nu~nez,
2014; Ward et al., 2015, p. 300). In the face of climate change, waterfront make-
overs and relocation strategies attached to them have become a global trend and a
commonly used strategy for city beautification (Kennedy et al., 2014; Strauch et al.,
2015). While these can represent a desirable public good for urban environments,
their design and implementation can be very challenging for water-based neigh-
bourhoods, related livelihoods and dwelling cultures.
Social inequality in Guayaquil is made manifest by the displacement engen-
dered by Guayaquil Ecol ogico’s implementation. As a joint venture of the Ministry
of Environment (MAE), the MIDUVI and numerous other state institutions, this
mega-project involves the forced relocation of 5662 families from Suburbio to
Socio Vivienda II. In late 2013, a notification from MIDUVI arrived at the doorstep
of inhabitants living along Suburbio’s waterfronts. Dwellers were given 15 days to
accept the key to a ready-made dwelling unit in Socio Vivienda II and leave. No
other options for their losses were offered, not even basic compensation.
User-led transformations in the dwelling environment were brusquely inter-
rupted by the notification of resettlement. The uncertainty of users’ housing situa-
tions and the potential threat of eviction froze all kinds of activities in the home
improvement process. The pioneer dwellers of Suburbio, who have first-hand expe-
riences of collective organisation for neighbourhood improvement, quickly reuni-
fied to collectively resist the resettlement and ‘beautification’ of their community.
Nevertheless, between 2013 and 2014, 3478 families were relocated to Socio
Vivienda II (MIDUVI, 2014), mostly from areas where neighbourhood comit es had
been inactive.
In some of the intensive case studies examined in the course of this
research, the threat of eviction was found to be a topic of conflict in
218 O. Peek et al.

multi-family households, especially when different home-sharers disagreed on

whether to stay or leave. As a consequence, part of the extended family refused
to go and remained in Suburbio, whereas other family members – usually of
the younger generation – left to Socio Vivienda II (see Table 1, The Ramırez,
Andrade, Cevallos and Mercado Family). On occasions, people who were relo-
cated in Socio Vivienda started to abandon the state-model houses within only a
year of inhabitation. They returned for the large part to their original homes in
the suburbios where other members of the family had stayed behind (see
Table 1, Carlos and Clemencia Cevallos Family). In other cases, however,
when no one had been watching over the house in Suburbio, homes were dis-
mantled and people were compelled to move in with relatives or rent (see
Table 1, Case [16]). In the forerunner Socio Vivienda I built in 2010, similar
processes of abandonment occurred, with 200 buildings left vacant (7%) and
400 dwelling units rented out (14%).9 Physical degradation and property aban-
donment in peripheral areas and projects is a wider trend in the Americas that
is partly connected with violence, housing finance and migration (Durst &
Ward, 2015; Monkkonen, 2011). Little evidence exists focusing on spatial con-
figurations and morphologies in the urban tissue that are equally strongly asso-
ciated with drastic changes in land use patterns (De Meulder & Heynen, 2006).
Grounded in intensive cases, the next section presents a critical review on user-
based transformation in contemporary dwelling environments. It reveals the multi-
ple ways in which relocated families have adapted to their new dwelling environ-
ment in the state-delivered micro-viviendas. They have maintained distinct
relations with their previous networks in Suburbio. Furthermore, those families
who remained in the suburbios also interact differently with their living environ-
ment after the ruptures generated by eviction.

Incremental development in Suburbio

Micro level: home transformations and spatial arrangements in self-built homes
The micro level of study analyses families’ home space. As a concept conceived to
understand both house and dweller interrelationships and assemblages, home space
has been considered as meaningful for understanding city-making as spontaneously
produced by the majority of urban dwellers (Eskemose & Sollien, 2012). Transfor-
mations of the home space made by users over time allow for a satisfactory distribu-
tion of space with a variety of domestic, economic and productive activities. To
keep up with the new demand for a multitude of home-sharers, independent living
spaces are made separate from pioneer homes by means of individual entrances and
external staircases. Likewise, users seek various ways to make room for economic
and productive activities in their home spaces.
In Suburbio, almost half of the studied dwellings (11 of 26 studied houses
of the 15 intensive cases) involved subdivisions either horizontally on the lot
International Journal of Housing Policy 219

or vertically.10 Furthermore, many dwellings performed as a workplace beside

their residential function and involved activities ranging from neighbourhood
stores, dressmaking, carpentry, after-school care, private parking, fishery and
Case [02] illustrates how the Perez family – a relatively small family of an old
pioneer dweller whose wife passed away years ago, and his daughter, son-in-law
and their six children – made piecemeal improvements through horizontal expan-
sion and subdivision of the dwelling over a 35-year period. Two pioneer bamboo
homes on stilts were transformed into a fully finished and painted yet one-storey
dwelling, making optimal use of the lot. In the most recent house transformation,
daughter Rita arranged an individual dwelling space for her father which she made
accessible through a separate entrance (see Figure 2). Arrangements are being
made to start the construction of a second floor for the extended family to live in
the near future.
The way in which more radical transformation occurred in a similar timeframe
becomes apparent from Case [07] in which the Andrade family resourcefully
accommodated the extended family in ‘los aires’.11 Through mutual efforts of the
multi-family household, a four-storey home – for the pioneer dwellers, two sons,
their spouses, children and grandchildren – was constructed incorporating three
individual entrances from the street, making the ground floor separate from the
upper floors (see Figure 2). Users expressed that at some point they foresaw the
ground floor space for the use of a negocio (small business). Yet, since the family is
rapidly growing and the inhabitants currently do not rely on the house as primary
income resource (they are employed in office jobs and self-employed as builders
with construction works throughout the city), the ground floor was built as an apart-
ment for the youngest son and family.

Meso level: vibrant streets, the shop, the church and public space
Streets are increasingly recognised as drivers for urban transformation (UN Habitat,
2013). As such, the street is understood as both a connecting infrastructural element
and a constituent of social fabric. In Suburbio, where extended families and other
kin commonly live steps away from each other, the street is actively used as a direct
extension of the house. As Rosita exclaims, ‘aqui todos somos familia’12 Streets
deploy a wide range of happenings and play a significant role in community activi-
ties. Every Sunday, several streets are closed-off for hosting the professional street
football matches that Suburbio is famous for (see Figure 4). On other days, street
markets are held and numerous other activities help generate a vibrant ambience in
the neighbourhood, such as street vending, vegetable gardens, swimming pools and
neighbourhood meetings. The urban tissue, constructed over various decades, has
absorbed a variety of functions (e.g. shops, workshops, religious and educational
spaces) and features a large variety of lot dimensions (e.g. superblocks vs. alleyways
220 O. Peek et al.

Figure 2. Home transformation and spatial arrangements for multi-family households. Left:
floor plan intensive Case [02], horizontal subdivisions on the lot. Right: house trajectory
intensive Case [07], vertical extensions over time in ‘los aires’.
Source: Images by Olga Peek.
International Journal of Housing Policy 221

along estrangulamientos), patio distributions and interior environments, in addition

to remarkably oversized streets. Strong social networks as well as over-dimensioned
infrastructures allow for the intensive use of streets to thrive. Notwithstanding the
evident social bonds and cohesion, strong territorialities also exist. Virtual borders
separate one neighbourhood from another, often related to the phases of formal–
informal interplay materialised in Suburbio. A lack of social control over streets can
also lead to desolate places that are attraction points for insecurity.
For many families who were relocated in Socio Vivienda II, the urban spaces of
Suburbio keep playing a significant role. Many displaced users return on a weekly
basis for participation in the Sunday football matches, and on a daily basis for
employment-related reasons and children’s education. More variable frequencies of
return take place for visiting family and accessing hospital treatment. The fre-
quency with which users living in Socio Vivienda II visit the suburbios has however
decreased over time as residents of the former slowly start building up a new liveli-
hood. Nevertheless, for many of the displaced, Suburbio continues to have a highly
symbolical value: as the place where they grew up; as the place where they estab-
lished key social relations and networks; as a place for work opportunities.
Forced resettlement left many ruptures in Suburbio’s urban tissue. Furthermore,
the form in which the implementation of Guayaquil Ecol ogico will continue is
undecided and ever changing. As a response and to encourage a more socially just
implementation of the mega-project, communities themselves developed concrete
alternative design proposals for public space. Residents eloquently expressed the
desire to continue to improve the urban environment for an on-going use value of
public space that their offspring can enjoy in the future. In their proposals, they
clearly showed how public space (integrating streets and nearby water bodies) was
perceived as clear extension of the home space and a place where families could
develop their everyday activities.

Resettlement and un-building the norms in Socio Vivienda II

Micro level: user-based adaptation and transformation in ready-made dwellings
Socio Vivienda’s ready-made dwelling units were multiplied over 3000 times in a
low-rise back-to-back row-housing typology. With an average of over five persons
per household living on five-by-ten-metre lots, the site has a considerable high pop-
ulation density within a low-density built environment. Urban residents who
exchanged their dwelling space in the estuarine landscape for a 39 m2 home in the
government relocation-housing programme have adapted to their new environment
in widely distinctive ways. These variations become evident in the way in which
they have made spatial adjustments to the normative homes (see Figure 3).
Daisy Mercado, her husband and children came to Socio Vivienda together with
Daisy’s two sisters Cynthia and Melissa Mercado, their aunt and other kin who used
222 O. Peek et al.

Figure 3. Home extensions and user-based transformation to a normative dwelling unit

(left) and an abandoned dwelling in Socio Vivienda (right).
Source: Images by Olga Peek.

to live in the same street in four individual dwellings at the waterfront of Estero Sal-
ado (see Table 1, Case [17]). In Socio Vivienda they were designated a total of six
units for the six families in adjacent blocks of row houses along the same street.
Their dad and grandfather still live in Suburbio in front of the site where they used
to live. Melissa and her husband Freddy share their patio (as originally planned in
the state-housing model) with sister Cynthia who lives at the back. Cynthia has
already made an expansion at the front of her home, while Melissa and Freddy are
making preparations for the 1.8 m addition to the dwelling, following the sister’s
example. Daisy did not make external additions yet, apart from the enclosure of her
patio and the adding of bars to the front windows. In the interior space, however,
Daisy changed the original layout. As she explained, when moving from Suburbio a
lot of furniture had to be given away or sold, as it simply did not fit in her new living
space. For the belongings Daisy’s family did bring, one of the interior walls was
removed to expand the living room that was merged with one of the bedrooms.
The dwelling typology of Socio Vivienda II is a heavily contested model. Ini-
tially, authorities strictly prohibited any form of transformation to the micro-viv-
ienda. After various claims from the community, particularly since many users
were restrained from home-based income generating activities, the Minister of
Housing recently announced that residents are allowed to add one floor to the hous-
ing units.13 Government standards aside, transformations occurred from the very
first moment of inhabitation: as a direct consequence of the need for more room (on
occasion people removed the whole front façade to extend the living room 1.8 m
into the street); as an expression of the need for more security, privacy and inti-
macy; and as a way to cater for productive and economic activities.
Transformation to government-built housing is a common phenomenon across
various cities in the Global South and is recognised as a sustainable housing strat-
egy that enables densification through home extensions and improvement of the
International Journal of Housing Policy 223

house and the users’ living conditions (Tipple, 2000). However, the poor quality
and inflexible structure of the micro-viviendas in Guayaquil on five-by-ten-metre
micro-lots impacted on the way in which this strategy may be realised in this partic-
ular case.

Meso level: appropriated versus desolated streets and public space

Socio Vivienda’s site layout is arranged according to an orthogonal grid of principal
roads enclosing dwelling clusters and interior pedestrian roads. Following national
standards, large parts of green area were foreseen in the original plan (though not
yet provided) for which large spaces were left open at the core of each dwelling
group. After relocation and despite MIDUVI’s attempt to locate people as close to
their acquaintances as possible, social networks nourished by decades of interaction
have been seriously disfigured. In the initial phase of occupation of the housing pro-
gramme, a qualitative density of spaces, people and activities is severely lacking.
Furthermore, the housing programme, favouring cost-effectiveness, is clearly based
on the reiteration of a single standard typology without any variation in its planning
and spatial organisation. This homogeneity results in ‘random’ design decisions
that avoid public–private interaction and hamper desirable appropriations and opti-
mal use of space at the meso scale. As an example, the streets designed as main ave-
nues are lined with houses that turn their back to the street. Unsurprisingly,
inhabitants indicated this street as a ‘no-go’ (see Figure 4, desolate edges). The
pedestrian streets, with a reduced width enclosed by the tiny facades of the row
houses, are on the other hand actively transformed by users through the extension
of their dwellings, the provision of commercial spaces, construction of portals for
shading, swimming pools and the planting of flowers, fruit trees and herbs (see
Figure 4). Hence, people themselves transform space in order to create these varie-
ties, differences and opportunities. Yet, in this process, people are severely hindered
by withholding legislation and encounter the struggles of an inflexible urban fabric.

Spaces of interaction, spaces of fragmentation?

An optimal use of the existing housing stock is highlighted as one of the most
urgent emerging challenges for sustainable development and inclusive urban trans-
formation (UN Habitat, 2016; Ward et al., 2015). While homes within the existing
urban fabric constructed three to five decades ago have on-going use value for
second and third generation households, opportunities for in-situ housing rehabilita-
tion and community revitalisation in consolidated neighbourhoods are rarely
reflected in contemporary city-making practices or current housing policy agendas
(Ward, 2015). As an alternative approach to the peripheral and inadequately ser-
viced mass-housing estates, this study aimed to gain more profound insights in the
ways in which certain elements and processes involved in spontaneous city-making
224 O. Peek et al.

Figure 4. Urban tissue analysis: 50 £ 50 m sample of Suburbio and Socio Vivienda with spa-
tial documentation of activities in the home and in the street. Top: amenities absorbed in urban
tissue as a church and (work)shops, weekly street football matches and street vending in Estero
Salado, Suburbio. Bottom: user-based adaptations in normative spaces, home extensions and eco-
nomic activities in inner pedestrian street versus desolate streets in the edges of Socio Vivienda.
Source: Image ‘football match’ (top right): courtesy of Lisa Buldeo Rai. Reproduced from
Ecological Urbanism in Guayaquil, Ecuador: Interweaving water and incremental tissue into a
hybrid network: a reverse invasion of the Suburbio (Unpublished master’s thesis), by L. Buldeo
Rai, E. Hellemans, H. Mangelschots, J. Paridaens, A. Van Kerckhoven. KU Leuven, Faculty of
Engineering Science. Copyright (2016) by KU Leuven. Reproduced with permission. All other
images by Olga Peek.
International Journal of Housing Policy 225

can be instructive for the creation of more inclusive, productive and vibrant living
spaces for the urban poor. We argue that user-based housing strategies and socially
supportive design, of which the role is currently largely underexposed in policy-
making, hold potential for establishing qualitative urban densities and habitable
environments, in a context where city-making is an exceedingly unequal process
(McFarlane, 2011).
The intensive case studies from the consolidated low-income settlement Subur-
bio uncovered how spontaneous city-making practices enable urban fabrics to grad-
ually consolidate by means of efforts made by different generations of home-
seekers, which have contributed to the shaping of a strong sense of community.
This process has produced urban tissues that today comprise an array of housing
typologies, activities and urban spaces. In Guayaquil, social networks were further
enhanced by the particular situation of extended families that were able to purchase
various lots within the same street in the gradual infill process of estuaries that were
transformed into city.
The piecemeal construction of urban fabric played an important role in absorb-
ing opportunities for income resources, job opportunities, new residential spaces,
community activities and a variety of other activities. Homes evolved in relative
alignment with shifting needs, uses and possibilities and many families succeeded
in accommodating extended families as well as workplaces in their home spaces.
Pioneer homes, furthermore, have an on-going use value for younger generations,
for whom spatial arrangements are being assembled. Relatedly, dwellings were fre-
quently transformed from single-family housing typologies to multi-family produc-
tive ones.
Nevertheless, the lack of support and technical assistance is impacting on the
ways in which dwelling densification may be realised. A full construction of the lot
and the continuous adding of extra rooms and spaces for example, can hinder a
decent daylighting and ventilation of the dwelling. Moreover, making adaptations
in housing arrangements often involves drastic re-organisation of the layout of the
house that entails extra costs.
In the context of particular social and spatial configurations on a meso scale,
Suburbio’s urban tissue still offered a variety of opportunities for user-based step-
by-step densification (e.g. abandoned buildings, oversized streets and lots in super-
blocks). Nevertheless, densification processes will reach a point where new dwell-
ing spaces that are sustained within the urban tissue will be insufficient for
absorbing all new generations and additional activities. Hence, besides strategies
for qualitative densification in low-income settlements, alternative solutions for
additional new housing provision will have to be considered. At the same time, resi-
dents from the consolidated low-income settlements strongly benefitted from being
embedded in a plethora of social networks which are often enabling when it comes
to economic, social and cultural dimensions of urban living. On that account, alter-
native housing strategies closer to ‘home’ should be considered for inclusive
226 O. Peek et al.

transformations in the low-income settlements that can substitute for the radical
makeover of the estuarine living space through mega-projects, currently displacing
urban dwellers, in particular younger generations, to places far away from where
they grew up.
In Socio Vivienda’s mass-housing model of ready-delivered turnkey units, the
urban poor’s quality of life and access to opportunities are obviously at stake. The
users heavily contested the project’s distance from work, education and health care,
the inflexible housing units, and the poor quality and lack of services. The structure
of Socio Vivienda’s row houses severely hindered residents in performing their
everyday activities. Besides physical constraints, the government’s attitude towards
incremental transformation over time is still seen as a creation of ‘unsafe’ and
‘precarious’ housing conditions, rather than a sustainable and enabling housing strat-
egy (Carrasco, Ochiai, & Okazaki, 2016; Tipple, 2000). The housing programme is
stuck in restrictive regulations focussing on what users may not do or change, rather
than what they may. In public space, large areas were unused and quickly deterio-
rated as the normative urban morphology and site design was devoid of user-based
strategies (e.g. design mechanisms articulating users’ activities in which streets can
interact with home spaces) in addition to the lack of a variety of dwelling typolo-
gies. The urban tissue enhanced abandonment and the creation of ‘no-go’ areas,
rather than it provided for users’ activities to flourish and the building of a sense of
community. In order to enhance sustainability, mass-housing estates therefore need
more responsiveness in terms of housing policy and architectural design from the
very start of the planning process (Angelil & Hehl, 2014).
Ecuador’s current policy framework recognises housing as a broader good in
which a close relation with opportunities for jobs and education is accentuated as an
important goal for inclusive city-making (SENPLADES, 2015). In practice, how-
ever, large-scale housing developments disintegrate with qualities and opportunities
that are already present in the city. Housing projects disregard user-based design and
promote dwellings that cannot grow along with the wishes and aspirations of their
inhabitants. Housing in newly constructed dwelling environments should be con-
ceived as ‘a process’ to be incrementally transformed by owners over time, which
would require a different approach by local governments in the first place. Housing
design should furthermore entail higher quality construction mechanisms that can
encourage user-based transformations and extensions in the future, and also should
allow for creative transformation on the meso scale. Hence, an integrated approach
to urban transformation is a necessary and fundamental step towards establishing a
qualitative densification of the urban fabric in terms of both housing opportunities
and public space provision where micro and meso scales closely interact.
Urban scenarios that incorporate long-term perspectives for urban transforma-
tion of waterfronts and public spaces (e.g. sustainable water management and cli-
mate change adaptation) along with incremental growth strategies have been
corroborated as viable alternative solutions that comply with dwelling preferences
International Journal of Housing Policy 227

and local dynamics (d’Auria et al., 2015). Design proposals presented during the
international summer school ‘Designing Inclusion’ were subsequently used by local
communities in the already on-going negotiation with local and national authori-
ties.14 These experiences illustrated how (urban) design additionally played a key
role in mitigating conflicts over space in a setting that increasingly steps aside from
community-based housing strategies.
UN Habitat’s zero draft of the New Urban Agenda highlights the need for more
variety of urban spaces and housing mechanisms, pointing at the necessity of inno-
vative forms of ownership (e.g. co-housing, community land trust) as key instru-
ments to increase the housing supply. This challenges urban practitioners and
policy-makers with how to promote such mechanisms that can involve user-based
design and incremental development in a context where urban land is no longer
available. Furthermore, the question how to develop context-sensitive, site-specific
strategies and urban scenarios where incremental growth and qualitative densifica-
tion in terms of both housing and public space can occur along socially acceptable
lines will be another main challenge in this respect. The provision of new housing
will have to encompass user-based design and allow for more flexible structures to
be produced in a dialectic process between multitudes of city-makers. A positive
note is that inclusive urban transformation tops the agenda at the upcoming Habitat
III. Yet, as the array of existing dwelling practices in Guayaquil illustrate, on-going
trends fall extremely far from such ambition. In order to sustain and create inclusive
urban livelihoods, housing policies should never be developed without foreseeing
user-based transformations on micro and meso scales: urban life in the vibrant city
is after all shaped through a density of differences, people, spaces and activities.

The authors would like to thank Richard Ronald, Paavo Monkkonen, and the anonymous ref-
erees for their helpful comments and suggestions.

Disclosure statement
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.

1. Strongly influenced by John Turner’s work, the World Bank popularised incremental
housing, initially by promoting sites-and-services programmes (1972–1975), shifting to
slum upgrading when major difficulties were experienced in accessing land (1976–
1979) and within economic constraints of cost recovery from earlier projects, finally
placing emphasis on local employment activities and microfinance for small-scale
enterprises (1980–1983) (Stein, 1991, p. 11–17).
228 O. Peek et al.

2. Dandora Sites and Services Project (1975–1983) in Nairobi, Kenya was one of the first
major ventures in sites-and-services made by the World Bank. Some other key exam-
ples of incremental housing projects are: Belapur Incremental Housing, Navi Mumbai,
India by Charles Correa (1980s); the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) and Khuda-ki-Basti
Incremental Housing Scheme in Karachi, Pakistan by Arif Hasan, (1982, 1986); Aranya
Community Housing, Indore, India by Doshi, (1989).
3. More recent incremental and in situ upgrading and community-based design initiatives
are: the world-known example ELEMENTAL, Chile; Proyecto Urbano Integral (PUI)
Medellın; Favela Bairro by Jorge Mario Jauregui, Rio de Janeiro; SEHAB Municipal
Upgrading Program, S~ao Paulo; Villa 31, Javier Fernandez Castro, Buenos Aires; Slum
Dwellers International, Africa; ACCA (Asian Coalition for Community Action).
4. Construccion sin ingenierıa. Se impone el uso de normas y nuevas tecnicas de
edificacion (2016, April 23). El Expreso, Guayaquil, p. 18.
5. El Ni~no is a natural process, intensified through the phenomenon of global warming, of
warm streams of ocean water that develops on the open seas of the Pacific Ocean and
then heads towards the coastal zones. The presence of El Ni~ no can significantly influ-
ence weather patterns, which in Guayaquil are characterised by exceptionally long peri-
ods of persistent and intensive rainfall and changing temperatures.
6. Tierras del plan Socio Vivienda en disputa legal (2011, March 20). El Expreso, Guaya-
quil, p. 12.
7. Municipio quiso comprar esos lotes (2008, July 31). El Universo, Guayaquil.
8. 7 razones de protesta en Socio Vivienda 2 (2015, September 1). El Universo, Guaya-
quil, p. 7.
9. Vecinos de Socio Vivienda alertan de mal uso de casas (2015, August 20). El Universo,
Guayaquil, p. 4.
10. The 15 intensive cases of Suburbio comprised 32 dwellings in total, of which 6 houses
were evicted. Of 26 dwellings that could be studied, 11 involved subdivisions. See
Table 1.
11. ‘Los aires’ refers to vertical spaces in ‘the air’ or upper floors involved in processes of
home transformation in Latin America’s ‘innerburbs’ (Ward et al., 2015, p. 161).
12. “Here we are all family”. Translation by first author.
13. En Socio Vivienda podran aumentar 1 piso. (2015, September 19). El Tel egrafo,

Olga Peek

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