doi 10.4067/S0718-83582009000200001




According to Latin American economies CEPAL data, as a disturbing crisis effect caused by its debt, will suffer 1.9% contraction, 9% unemployment increase and 3.1% growth in 2010. Most of the regions countries, after 40 years follow up, are placed in the "Vicious Cycle" (deficient human development and little economic growth) according to World Bank analysis.

The continent is also undergoing, as many other parts of the world, a tension increase between fast globalization and other emerging realities; most of them produced by conflicts, forced displacement, poverty and social exclusion. During the 90's natural disasters occurred in this part of the planet on a an average of 40 events a year causing 45,000 death, 40 millions victims and over 20,000 million dollars in direct damages.

Taking in consideration these indexes and that economic growth provides resources to improve human development; habitat vulnerability will tend to weaken. Studies show that the most important asset, and necessary condition to accumulate other assets, is the housing capital and its surroundings. The more assets the less vulnerability there is in risky, insecure and violent situations.

It shows the most scale impact in cities, particularly metropolis, although not exclusively. They are developing socio-spatial complex relationship transformations that reflex on expansion and territorial dispersion growth, physical fragmentation and inequalities increase and social distances, intensification of private domain over public one. One way it shows is the segregation process that develops by the different social groups' competition for the urban space and the pattern changes that are producing according to experts. This becomes important when its economic origin can be the mechanism that reproduces inequalities which it is in itself a manifestation.

Within this context, the greatest challenge for Latin American cities is the poverty urbanization phenomenon. Almost 40 % of urban population in the region lives in poverty, which represents 70% of poverty in the area.

The vulnerability variable comes from natural, material, social, economic, financial, political, institutional, functional, decision making sources and others which do not only influence separately though also the network system created by their interaction. Nowadays vulnerability is also used to help understand and find alternatives to overcome poverty avoiding poor, not-poor concepts dichotomy proposing a gradient that includes both of them. This concept must intertwine with other definitions such as exclusion, the individuals', home and/or communities conditions that can be negatively affected in their response capacity to the environment changes. This way to understand poverty is now in revision and we feel it must be an issue of discussion, even more now due to the current economic model deepening, its contradictions and techno instrumental rationale.

On the other hand and due to new urban housing and social political demands such as population ageing and its physical-spatial challenges, population age range changes, women increased participation in labor force, home transformations and its new services needs, migration movements intra and inter regional and its impact in habitat just to mention some issues involved that features new demands and interweaved knowledge production to which they are not adequately prepared.

There are still applying mono comprehensive theoretical models or insufficient ones to meet the challenges complexities underneath this phenomenon. Within this perspective Latin America tends to apply external theoretical models, not emerged from the region, which do not answer its specific and particular area's needs. We feel that together with new findings, it is important to promote and reveal proposals feasible to address the challenges.

The above mention context motivates to promote such knowledge spreading, developing experiences assessments or anything that has been done: diagnosis, methodologies and instruments that help improving quality life as it is one of the ideals the Housing Institute aspires.

The first article "Housing for Displaced Population in Colombia" by Carlos Alberto Torres it is part of displaced population research in Colombia and its analysis, reflections and recommendations about rights of this population that for decades have been a grave problem for social and economic policies in that country and from which some learning can be done and knowledge used about displacement due to armed conflicts with all the complexities this phenomenon implies.

The post graduated work "Cultural Mutation Process from Everyday Experiences in Puclaro Village" by Giancarla Gomez is in the same line of population displacement, movement and eradication. It explores the massive eradication impact and its socio-cultural consequences and transformations in the territory that defines the processes context, which the author defines as "Cultural mutation" originating social and urban residential habitat fabric deterioration of vulnerable socio-economic conditions population.

The article "Habitat and Senior Citizens: Valparaiso Case Study" by Giulleta Fadda and Alejandra Cortes shows through this age group quality of life indexes in the port city of Valparaiso. A complex reality caused by its topographic characteristic and its inhabitants' socio-economic variables. The study proposes a set of possible solutions and public policies suggestions related to the problem.

Finally, the article "Classification: A Tool to lnclude Vernacular Urban Housing in the Architectural Universe" by Diana Maldonado summarizes her PhD. Monograph on the above-mentioned subject. This work deals, questions traditional architectural classification forms; which do not include the "vernacular" and popular universe. The thesis proposes a classification model based on style, shape, decoration, structure, function and space from a case study starting point.

From this issue onwards Revista INVI "free thematic" will use as presentation criterion to group under a generic title the selected articles to he published in order to give a presentation sense and guidance to these contributions.

This issue also incorporates a new section in the journal named: "Monographs and Essays" which will include post graduated and under graduated students' work which deserved to be published, previous to a formal evaluation by the editorial committee and at least two more journal external evaluators.


Ricardo Tapia Zarricueta