HOUSING COOPERATIVE FOR MUTUAL AID
Nuevo Amanecer (New Sunrise)
Nuevo Amanecer is a large housing cooperative located on the northeastern outskirts of Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. It consists of 423 households and is one of more than 300 housing cooperatives across the country.
Map of Uruguay
THE ORIGINS OF NUEVO AMANECER
Just as it is now, back in the early 1970s it was difficult to find decent affordable housing in Uruguay. People on low incomes did not qualify for bank loans to build their own accommodation, so members of five existing cooperatives decided to join forces to form an umbrella coop they called Nuevo Amanecer. Three of the founding coops were union based (two in the textile industry and one in the metal industry); one was church based; and the fifth consisted of medical service workers.
Members of Nuevo Amanecer pooled their resources and in February 1972 acquired a bank loan. They were able to purchase land fairly cheaply on the outskirts of Montevideo in an area where several industries had closed down. Once this land had been acquired, members of the coop proceeded to build an entire neighbourhood from scratch using their own skills and labour.
Photo #1: An aerial view of the Nuevo Amanecer neighbourhood (triangle in centre)
During the construction phase each household was obliged to provide a minimum of 21 hours of labour per week. Both men and women participated in heavy labour, but it was often women who completed the more detailed finishing tasks such as the tiling of kitchens and bathrooms. Altogether, unpaid coop labour is estimated to have reduced construction costs by about 15 percent.
Work was contracted out only when necessary. For instance, the coop hired the services of an architectural firm whose designs were reviewed and approved by the coop's Grand Council and then by the coop membership as a whole. Many adjustments were requested based on personal and cultural preferences, and the architects' original recommendations prevailed only if there were sound technological or financial reasons.
Various types of homes were built to meet the needs of different kinds of households. The eventual allocation of homes was determined by a raffle held within each category.