Johnny Magdaleno


How Catastrophe Inspired Brilliant, Livable, Affordable Housing

After Mexico, a look at a seaside town in Chile that came back from one of the biggest earthquakes in history.

Tremors erupted in the darkness before dawn, two miles off the Chilean coast, shaking much of the city of Constitución to rubble. It took less than three minutes. The 8.8 magnitude earthquake was the second strongest recorded anywhere in the world in nearly 50 years.

When the quake and ensuing tsunami hit on February 27, 2010, Chile’s undersecretary of housing, Andrés Iacobelli, had only been on the job for a few days. One of his first official phone calls was to a former colleague at Elemental, the Chilean architecture firm that he co-founded. That conversation set into motion one of the smartest city reconstruction plans in recent history.

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