This film was made by Christina Lappas and Monika Shankar during the 2009 International Field Program for a project that explored urban housing issues in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It examines housing as a social issue and contains several interviews with residents and experts, who offer insight sinto the complexities that surround housing. The film focuses on Mallaver Villate or Villa of Emergency, which began as an informal settlement, but has since grown into a distinct neighborhood because of the determination and organizing abilities of the people.
The project entailed evaluating the impact of houses that were constructed between 1994 and 2000 in a neighborhood that prior to 1994, was a slum (“villa”). The central objective was to identify and elaborate on what areas of life changed for the individuals of this neighborhood after the houses were built. In other words, what does a house signify for an individual and how does it improve (or worsen) that person’s life. The primary methodology used for the evaluation was interviews with: the neighbors who currently live in the barrio, government officials who work in the urban development sector in the provinces, and urban planning professionals and academics. In addition, the history of the neighborhood and urban development data (in Buenos Aires) was analyzed in order to set the context for the development of the barrio.
The final data collected was analyzed from three distinct theoretical areas: the physical space, the social space and the mental spaces. The physical space refers to the changes to the actual physical space of the house. The social space refers to the areas of life that are improved (or worsened) as a result of a house changing, including employment and education. Finally, the mental space refers to the qualities that define the community as a whole.