Archive for September, 2010

Chilean High School Begins Post-Earthquake Reconstruction

Later this year the Instituto Superior de Commerce Eduardo Frei, the first commercial high school in Chile, will begin reconstruction. The project is made possible through the financial support of 1.5 million euros (9,900 million Chilean pesos) from a regional government in Paris, Île-de France. The building suffered significant damage great after the earthquake and has been closed since then. Today its 1,361 students are spread across the Liceo Comercial González Videla, Argomedo No. 360 and School Mexico. “The Insuco is a flagship school of the Metropolitan Region and major reconstruction is a priority,” says the mayor Echeverría. The school will resume operations at the beginning of the 2012 school year.


Project Division Group Position Statement (Draft)

We want to offer the Division community seamless connectivity in three ways: logistically, architecturally, and functionally. Logistically, traffic flow and connections to buses, taxis, car drop offs / pick ups, and bicycles will be clear and convenient. Architecturally, the building will be responsive to environmental changes. Functionally, the building will offer underrepresented services that may include a fitness center, vendor market space, park, performance area, and other amenities.

Why seamless?

Logistically, the seamless concept allows us to serve more people in a given amount of space because people can get to their destination faster. Tourists and newcomers are less likely to block traffic if they can quickly learn how to get to their destination. Architecturally, we want the station to stay culturally relevant in a changing neighborhood. Functionally, the additional services would save riders a separate trip and increase traffic use of the space on weekends.

How will this improve the community?

The new station will create employment, offer community (civic) space, become a landmark, and provide services/conveniences.

Customs of Chile


Desayuno (breakfast): typical time. Café con leche plus toast with jam and butter
Almuerzo (lunch): 1:30 PM. Can last 2-2.5 hours, used to be leisurely time with family plus nap, now lunch at nearby restaurant plus talk of business. Wine often drunk with lunch. Water con gas and sin gas.
El Té (tea): 5:00 PM. Café con leche, café helado or tea. Iced tea is rare. Marraqueta (French bread) or pastries.
La Comida (dinner, note: “Véngase a comer” means “Come to dinner” and not lunch as it would in Spanish. La cena, “supper” in Spanish is not vernacular here): 9:00 PM. Resembles lunch but is less abundant and elaborate.


Concept of Time: When it comes to social events, Chileans expect guests to be “fashionably late.” They enjoy a leisurely meal in the company of friends and family and stay at the table after the meal is over to talk (la sobremesa). Work and school hours and public transportation schedules are geared towards punctuality.
Soccer, tennis, skiing and horse riding are popular.

Social customs

Personal Distance: Amongst strangers or friends, Chileans stand closer (than is comfortable to Americans) to each other in lines, public transportation and conversation.
Greetings: Shake hands when introduced. Male-male continue to do so with subsequent meetings. Male-female shake hands if the relationship is formal; if social, hold hands and kiss on one cheek. Female-female also shake hands if the relationship is formal; if social, hold hands and kiss on one cheek. Family members greet each other with a kiss on the cheek. Brothers or fathers and sons will grasp hands and hug (abrazo). The greeting process can be a long affair as each person greets the new person who has entered. Chileans value intimacy and physical contact is an important demonstration of those with whom they interact. Chilean women, especially those of the same family, link arms when they walk along the street. Chileans may appear unaware of strangers around them but are very welcoming once a certain link has been established.
The Saint’s Day: Birthdays are celebrated both on the actual day of birth and on the day of the saint that corresponds to a person’s name. For females, this also applies to the feminine version of a male name.
Forms of Address: vs. usted in formal relationships is reversed in certain situations. When a young man and young woman meet each other, the form is used. The usted form is reserved for a more intimate and exclusive relationship. Adults use the usted form with children to indicate that they are upset with them.
The “Uniform”: Chilean men dress very conservatively in blue and gray suits. While women may dress as they please, bright colors are frowned upon.
Women’s Roles: Suffrage in 1949. Women more accepted in professional roles. Feminine versions of male occupations used to mean “the wife of a _____” (e.g. arquitecta or abogada used to mean wife of an architect or lawyer). Now they often mean a female in that occupation. However, some workplace discrimination still exists. Males are now more helpful in housework.

Castillo-Feliú, Guillermo I. Culture and Customs of Chile. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000. Print.

Cuisine of Chile

Humitas: puréed corn, powdered sugar, salt, wrapped in corn husk (like a tamale)
Pastel de choclo: corn pie with beef, chicken, raisins, onion, olives, garlic, chili (ají), cumin, olive oil, salt and sugar
Empanadas: deep fried or baked turnovers with various fillings
Porotos granados: cranberry beans with squash and corn
Cazuela: soup with chicken or beef, corn on the cob, zapallo (pumpkin), rice, peas and carrots
Pernil de chanco a la chilena: braised ham with chili sauce
Budín de centolla: pudding of king crab (jaiba resembles blue crab)
Chupe de marisco: sea scallops in beurre blanc with cream, hard boiled eggs, Münster, and long grain rice (locos = fresh abalone)
Cadillo de congrio: fish, tomato and potato soup (congrio = eel-like fish, corvina = sea bass)
Curanto: clam bake with lobster, crab, mussels, oysters, potato patties, peas, beans, and a whole suckling pig
Erizo: sea urchin usually served fresh with lemon juice
Pebre: sauce made of olive oil, vinegar, water, cilantro, onion, red chili paste, garlic and salt
Color: sauce of garlic and paprika heated in oil or fat
Sandwiches: ave-palta (chicken-avocado), Barros Luco (broiled beef and cheese), Barros Jarpa (broiled ham and cheese), chacarero (broiled beef, tomato, green chili, and green beans)

Chileans are known for having a sweet tooth. Pastries are often works of art.
Tortas: cakes
Kuchen: open face pies (often sweet)
Queque: pound cake
Manjar: ingredient made by reducing milk and sugar

Many fruits are grown locally and a significant proportion of supermarkets are dedicated to produce. For example, there are a dozen varieties of avocado. The delicatessen section offers ready-to-eat cuts of meats, cheeses, olives and other items sold by the kilo. Cajero automáticos (ATMs) are often available on site.

Castillo-Feliú, Guillermo I. Culture and Customs of Chile. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000. Print.

Chilean Holidays

New Year’s Day, January 1. Occurs during summer but celebrated as in the United States.
Navy Day
, May 21. Commemorates the Battle of Iquique in 1879. Also day of a major earthquake in 1960. Some feel that its coincidence saved many lives that would otherwise have been in collapsing buildings.
Corpus Christi, Monday preceding the traditional date (Jun 7, 2004). Corpus Christi occurs on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, but in Chile it is observed on the preceding Monday.
Pedro Pablo, June 29. Feast day of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Observed on the preceding Monday if it falls on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. See Saint Peter and Saint Paul.
Independence Day, September 18. Commemorates the first demands for independence in 1810. Celebrated with the national dance, the cueca and consumption of typical foods.
Armed Forces Day, September 19. Continues the Independence Day celebration. Parade along Santiago’s main avenues.
Día de la Raza, October 12. Columbus Day. Observed on the preceding Monday if it falls on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Celebration of Hispanic and Indian inheritances.
Christmas, December 25. Occurs during summer. Celebration really begins on the 24th. Children open presents as close to midnight as their ages permit and families gather to enjoy a great meal. Some attend a midnight mass, misa de gallo, and return home to continue the celebration.

Public holidays: New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Labor Day, Corpus Christi, Pedro Pablo, Assumption, Independence Day (Sep 18-19), Día de la Raza, All Saints’ Day, Immaculate Conception, and Christmas.

Desk Crit Meeting Notes: Chilean Cultural Context

Why do cultural research?

I want to design in a context that will be readily accepted by the Chileans. Since it will have been a year since the earthquake when we arrive, we will probably be addressing higher tier needs than physiological and safety. Designing objects that provide a sense of purpose requires an understanding of the demographic’s culture and values.

What are you looking to learn?

First, we need to differentiate between Chilean culture in general and that of the city for which we are designing. Just as Los Angeles would be a very poor indicator of the culture in New Orleans, so too might generalizations about a country that spans one-eighth the circumference of the globe be inaccurate. Books can provide a historical context but media sources will be a better reflection of recent events. Monica has suggested three online sources: Las Últimas Noticias, La Tercera, and emol. Jim suggested that I contact the embassy or consulate.

In terms of the culture itself, I want to know:

How can I help rebuild culture post-earthquake?
What do people do for entertainment?
Where do people go on a Friday night?
How late do they stay out?
What’s a weekday like in Santiago? Weekend?
Describe a typical work day for someone in the service industry. When do they take breaks?
How do people celebrate holidays?
How do I make a connection with the people?
What is a good conversation starter?
Are people introverted/extroverted?
How would you characterize the popular culture?
What kind of music do people listen to?
What television programs do people watch?
Which celebrities do people follow?
Is politics discussed much by the average citizen?
What do Chileans eat for breakfast/lunch/dinner?
When do they eat?
Is the food culture meat/fish/vegetable driven?
Tell me about a food that is uniquely Chilean.
What attitudes do people have of different social classes? Age groups? Ethnicities?
How has the rising unemployment rate affected Chilean attitudes towards government? Consumption habits?

Source: CIA World Factbook, February 19, 2010

Jim also suggested that I look into the disaster relief efforts to date. What are the issues that have come up? Perhaps there are opportunities in newly orphaned children. Maybe a segment of the population has become newly disabled. Were historical/religious monuments destroyed and how are Chileans working around that loss?

Snippets from CIA World Factbook on Chile


Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Nevado Ojos del Salado 6,880 m

Natural resources: copper, timber, iron ore, nitrates, precious metals, molybdenum, hydropower

Natural hazards: severe earthquakes, active volcanism, tsunamis

Environmental issues: widespread deforestation and mining threaten natural resources, air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions, water pollution from raw sewage


Population: 16,601,707 (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 60

Age structure:
0-14 years: 23.2% (male 1,966,017/female 1,877,963)
15-64 years: 67.8% (male 5,625,963/female 5,628,146)
65 years and over: 9.1% (male 627,746/female 875,872) (2010 est.)

Median age:
total: 31.7 years
male: 30.7 years
female: 32.8 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.881% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 138

urban population: 88% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.3% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 77.34 years
country comparison to the world: 56
male: 74.07 years
female: 80.77 years (2010 est.)

Ethnic groups: white and white-Amerindian 95.4%, Mapuche 4%, other indigenous groups 0.6% (2002 census)

Religions: Roman Catholic 70%, Evangelical 15.1%, Jehovah’s Witness 1.1%, other Christian 1%, other 4.6%, none 8.3% (2002 census)

Languages: Spanish (official), Mapudungun, German, English

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.7%
male: 95.8%
female: 95.6% (2002 census)


Economic overview: free trade, export-based economy accounting for 1/4 of GDP, rule-based countercyclical fiscal policy of accumulating surplus in times of high copper prices and allowing deficits only during periods of low copper prices and growth.

GDP (purchasing power parity): $242.2 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 47
$246.4 billion (2008 est.)
$238.8 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP – real growth rate:
-1.7% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 141
3.2% (2008 est.)
4.7% (2007 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP):
$14,600 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 76
$15,000 (2008 est.)
$14,600 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP – composition by sector:
agriculture: 5.6%
industry: 34.5%
services: 51.9% (2008 est.)

Labor force:
7.42 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 60

Labor force – by occupation:
agriculture: 13.2%
industry: 23%
services: 63.9% (2005)

Unemployment rate: 9.6% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115
7.8% (2008 est.)

Population below poverty line: 18.2% (2005)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1.6%
highest 10%: 41.7% (2006)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.5% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 56
8.7% (2008 est.)

Agriculture: grapes, apples, pears, onions, wheat, corn, oats, peaches, garlic, asparagus, beans, beef, poultry, wool, fish, timber

Industries: copper, other minerals, foodstuffs, fish processing, iron and steel, wood and wood products, transport equipment, cement, textiles

Industrial production growth rate: -4.1% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 106

Exports: $53.74 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 44
$66.46 billion (2008 est.)

Exports – commodities: copper, fruit, fish products, paper and pulp, chemicals, wine

Exports – partners: China 16.46%, US 11.31%, Japan 9.06%, South Korea 6.49%, Brazil 4.64%, Mexico 4.09% (2009)

Imports: $39.75 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 50
$57.62 billion (2008 est.)

Imports – commodities: petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, electrical and telecommunications equipment, industrial machinery, vehicles, natural gas

Imports – partners: US 21.77%, China 12.76%, Argentina 9.55%, Brazil 6.46%, South Korea 5.35% (2009)

Exchange rates: Chilean pesos (CLP) per US dollar – 569.37 (2009), 509.02 (2008), 526.25 (2007), 530.29 (2006), 560.09 (2005)


Telephones – main lines in use: 3.526 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 43

Telephones – mobile cellular: 14.797 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 45

Broadcast media: national and local terrestrial television channels, coupled with extensive cable TV networks; the state-owned Television Nacional de Chile (TVN) network is self-financed through commercial advertising revenues and is not under direct government control; large number of privately-owned TV stations; about 250 radio stations (2007)

Internet users: 5.456 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 43