Indigenous people around the world are among the planet's poorest and most marginalized. They are also the most dependent on sustainable, healthy environments for their well-being. In Chile, Mapuche organizations have developed an innovative intercultural approach to community development built on equity and respect for the social and cultural demands of local Indigenous populations.

The knowledge of medicinal plants, both wild and cultivated, that traditional healers known as machi possess has been a first line of defense in community health strategies for generations. Yet it is one that is largely ignored by "western" public health interventions. The clash between traditional health beliefs and western approaches to treatment and prevention of disease embodies the Mapuche struggle to find their place within contemporary Chile. The Mapuche are proud of their traditions and culture. However, the lingering effects of colonization and repeated attempts at assimilation have bred mistrust of the larger Chilean society. Centrally planned, top-down programs geared to the perceived needs of the natives have done little to ease tensions. Indeed, they have often made the situation worse. The ecosystems that once sustained the Mapuche have suffered as families and communities struggled to gauge and control the effects of imported development schemes. The net result is an Indigenous population that is among the country's poorest and most marginalized.

If the Chilean state were to enforce the liberal values it praises, a society extolling individual liberty as such would acknowledge and embrace the Mapuche cultural inheritance in making it part of the country national identity rather than forcing indigenous minorities to die out in enclosed dictated territories. Having been pushed away from urban development, there is now critical needs to reintroduce the Mapuche culture within the city center of Santiago while at the same time reactivate a grid based neighborhood that Pinochet liberal economic policy have empty throughout Chile’s dictatorship.

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Mapuche religious healing ceremony

Clay filaments

A wall divides a space. Consider a large number of walls within a single space. On a plan, the walls all point one direction, they create an obvious sense of linearity in which you are taken: A progression of spaces in a consecutive manner. However, the shifted alignment of the walls breaks up the sense of linearity blurring the boundaries in the interior path. It follows through the creation of in between, intersected spaces. The blurring of thresholds of spaces creates a sense of direction giving motion within the space.
The division of the space have created a certain way of experiencing the space. Our circulations are dictated by these walls and the very fluid spatial composition have an impact on the way we behave.
What if it was our behavior (circulations) that would have created this architecture ? The negative space becomes positive, a cast of life.


The totem

Santiago city grid



Mapu: The earth.
Che: the people.

Distortion of the grid

Ground floor plan.

Two distinctive worlds

The curvature of the wooden mesh is regulated with the different programmes it shelters.


Paigen: being at peace