Periurban megaprojects in santiago de chile: the urbanization by holdings and the paradoxical happiness of middle-class dwellers.

Cáceres Seguel, César (2018). 'Periurban megaprojects in Santiago de Chile: the urbanization by holdings and the paradoxical happiness of middle-class dwellers.' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Buenos Aires, Argentina 2018.


The recent peri-urban expansion in Santiago de Chile is related to the development of satellite towns built by real estate holdings. The projects developed in the periurban commune of Lampa is interest because they shed light on new residential experiences of emerging middle income groups in private megaprojects. These megaprojects have been built since the early 2000s in peripheral and peri-urban communes located in the metropolitan region of Santiago. Satellite towns were born out of a normative that permitted the creation of new settlements in conditioned urbanization zones located in peri-urban communes of Santiago de Chile. Although the process of peri-urbanization of Santiago has been widely studied, the quality of life of these groups remains unclear. As an attempt to examine the life quality of middle income groups in Chilean cities, this paper investigates the residential experience of these social group in private urban megaprojects built in the periurban commune of Lampa, Santiago de Chile. Through sixty interviews with inhabitants of the projects of Larapinta and Valle Grande, this research shows the paradoxical happiness of middle-class peri-urbanites of Santiago de Chile. A precarious life experience in a periurban megaproject between neighborhood satisfaction and economic scarcity. Such a contradiction emerges from the satisfaction related to the achievement of higher residential standards and the financial vulnerability derived from a lifestyle based on intensive mobility and the availability of private neighborhood facilities. The main results emphasizes that the periurbanization led by real estate holdings diversified the residential options for middle income groups, however, in the case of periurban satellite towns, the evidence shows a conflict associated to the creation of settlements based on the privatization of basic urban services. Periurban territories emerges as a residential space configured under the logic of what Harvey (Harvey, 2004) defines under the concept of ‘accumulation by dispossession’. A neoliberal strategy based on the suppression of rights to common goods and privatization of social rights. Periurban satellite towns of Santiago de Chile reveals middle income groups more ambitious in the definition of their habitat. To pursue superior livability standards (neighborhood facilities, green areas, security) was the main reason behind the suburban exodus, therefore, people want to stay to live their private city. But this is also a fragile urban life mode that will continue for as long as they are able to handle the cost of an entrepreneurial periurban life. People decide to keep a superior urban life level under high degrees of economic uncertainty; however, as soon as some family member loses their job or an unforeseen expense emerges, sign posts “for sale” appear, pointing to a return to the city. With the Chilean economic development of the last decades, Santiago´s emerging middle-income groups enjoy more than ever personal freedom. They decide between several alternatives of urban habitat typologies and move freely for an extended and multi-centered metropolis. However the periurban jump implied an unprecedented economic scarcity in middle-income groups with precarious tools to inhabit settlements based on the privatization of basic urban services. In contrast to the notion of periurbia as a boring, homogeneous, non-political space, the commune of Lampa in Santiago de Chile appears as a complex space opening new forms of social vulnerability in middle income groups.

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