Villa El Salvador

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About the project Edit

Created in 1971 in the middle of the desert 30 km from Lima, Villa El Salvador is a city with a population of 300,000 poor people rejected outside the Peruvian capital centre. Its distinguishing feature is that it’s a self-managed urban community. On land without water, electricity or roads, the inhabitants built a self-managed city with political and social organization that really resembles a utopian socialist community model – all out of nothing.

Thus, the city is organized according to a very precise plan that is reminiscent of French utopian socialist Fourier. Space is organized from wide roads built by the residents themselves that make blocks of houses that, in turn, make up neighbourhoods. These make up a basic city unit, both urban and political. In fact, each neighbourhood is organized around a public place where common services like schools, medical units and sports centres are found.


In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

Villa El Salvador is a unique example of the participative construction of a city. Projects advance when unanimous decisions are made after discussions with all generations and everyone’s participation, whether from the human perspective or financial. Long-termed planning applies to everything: land is reserved for parks, hospitals and university. Forty years ahead of its time, they conceive of and implement country in the city by reserving agricultural areas in order to feed the population. If they still don’t have the money, they will do everything to find and make what they can’t buy.

What is the social value of this project? Edit

Some consider Villa El Salvador a dream in the desert: everyone has the right to own a house, all infrastructures are build by the population with the available resources. Neighbourhoods are based on political organization that is a participative democracy. Each resident group is made up of 384 families and every year elects five delegates who are in charge of common concerns.

Ninety percent of the population exercises its democratic rights which focuses on community traditions for social organization. They respond to the needs by neighbourhood and identify by working to resolve problems by neighbourhood. Today, Villa El Salvador has a cinema, radio and television stations and a university. And the cornerstone of this utopia that explains its success is education. Ninety-seven percent of the population is literate. Education is an absolute priority, a must for emancipation. Even the city founders – old peasants from the mountains after the earthquake of 1970 – know how to read and write. Their grandchildren are the teachers.

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

Many basic principles of construction and management of Villa El Salvador have the potential to expand into other municipalities in the world. For example, the long-term vision of construction, the spirit of solidarity, participative democracy and the like.

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit


What is the business model of this project? Edit

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