The population of Latin America is increasing at an even greater rate than that of Asia—creating a housing situation that “is enormously complex, pressing, and of paramount importance in the overall social and economic well-being of Latin America.”
This book is one in a series of studies undertaken by the Inter-American Program of the Civil Engineering Department at M.I.T. It is based on the belief that the combined efforts of sociologists, economists, political scientists, architects, engineers, and builders are required to find solutions for the housing problems in Latin America. For the first time these problems are examined from the demographic and sociological standpoints as well as from the technological aspects of materials, methods of construction, and research. Emphasis is given to such specific problems as the housing shortage resulting from massive population shifts from rural to urban areas, the absence of long-term financing, the unstable currencies resulting in inflation and erosion of values, the archaic bureaucratic red tape and petty regulations, and the lack of skilled personnel.
The authors clearly define these problems and then proceed to point out the exciting, yet untapped potential for Latin American housing construction in the areas of faster and more efficient methods of construction, expansion of facilities for materials manufacture, employment of systems using unskilled and semi-skilled labor to advantage, and widespread introduction of low-cost materials that have not previously been used in the area.
The authors have traveled and studied extensively in Latin America and their informative and valuable study is based on first-hand observations, thorough examination of literature and original documents, and interviews with authorities familiar with many facets of the problem.
Civil engineers, builders, architects, city planners, sociologists, economists, and political scientists will find this study interesting. Because of the broad treatment of the subject, many nonspecialists who are interested in Latin America will also find this a fascinating book.
Housing in Latin America is a volume in The M.I.T. Report Series.
Albert G. H. Dietz is Professor Emeritus of Building Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.