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17m2 Apartments Add To New Urban Trend in Chile

Posted by Leanne Dudley on November 20, 2019
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The ‘studio’ type properties became popular a couple of years ago in communes such as Central Station and Santiago. They have now spread to the capital’s pericentral sector’s, such as Ñuñoa. 

In Hong Kong they became popular as ‘nano-homes’; in Chile they are known as ‘studio’ departments. 

These spaces that border 20 metres squared include a bathroom, a bedroom, living room and kitchen. There may be small terrace or balcony in some cases.

The younger generation have chosen to sacrifice living space over the location of their homes. These locations are mainly the central sectors of the city. 

In Chile, they became popular in 2016 in communes such as Santiago and Central Station. There were even possibilities of having a 25 metre squared studio.
Today they are expanding to sectors of Ñuñoa and other pericentral communes, such as San Miguel, and  the studios are increasingly smaller.
Near the National Stadium and O’Higgins Park, for example, studios of 21 and 17 metre squared are sold for more than 2,200 UF.

Locked in the home

Camila Sánchez (24), who leases a 25 m2 apartment in Santiago for $ 250 thousand. She says that about $300 thousand is spent a month if she considers the common expenses, electricity and water. Her neighbours are mainly young professionals, couples with children and foreigners.

‘When I enter my home,’ she says, ‘there is a small hallway that has a closet. There is a counter in front of the closet, to leave dishes, that separates the kitchen from the rest of the studio.

I have a frigobar because there is not enough space for me to have a large refrigerator. Then there’s the room where I have a bed and a TV; I can also have a table with two chairs. Also, there is the bathroom door, which is also small, but enough,’ she says.

She assures that the space fits her needs as she lives alone and walks to work. However, she admits that on weekends, she does not travel to Viña del Mar to see her family.
‘I feel locked up: I either throw myself onto the bed or I sit  in a chair. It is not the most comfortable way to spend your weekend ‘.
So, she adds, she prefers to leave the capital.

‘I think that two people would die living there alone; you are locked up and there is nothing to do but look at the other person,’ says Sánchez.

Positive Reguations

The new requirements for the social and territorial integration programme, promoted by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, states that social housing units should be 47 m2 for a house, and 52 m2 for apartments.
The space has increased over the years. Today, there are even some that are up to 60 m2, whose aims are families. 

The private sector, on the other hand, is moving in the opposite direction. The president of the Urban Development Council, Sergio Baeriswyl, states that the proliferation of this type of apartment-rooms follows a worldwide trend of footage reduction in residential units. This is especially in the historical centers of large cities. 

“The real estate companies have started to offer these products as the value per square metre sold, in general, has increased. this implies that a significant part of demand does not correspond to supply,” he says.

On the other hand, he adds that ‘it covers an offer that was not previously available, and that for many people it is quite useful. It is not so crazy‘.

Of course, he warns that these studios can bring negative externalities. For example, bad community life and, also, there may be too many studios.

Without going any further, the General Ordinance of Urban Planning and Construction (GOUP) does not include any rules regulating the minimum area of a housing unit.  Studio apartment projects could continue to emerge, same as in European cities like Paris, where there are retractable pieces of 9 m2 and 10 m2.


Translated from ‘Departamentos desde 17 m2 se suman a nueva tendencia urbana en Santiago

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