Chapter 2: Method


This chapter presents information on the process of documentation of the case study, the collection of the data and preliminary considerations for the data analysis.

The chapter is divided into three sections. The first section presents the questions that guide this research. The second section enumerates and describes the sources of information used to select and document the case study. An explanation of the strategy of analysis used for the study concludes the chapter.

2.1 Research Questions

The core question of this study is: How do dwellings evolve in a Progressive Development project? In order to narrow the scope of this interrogation to the case study, the following main and secondary questions were raised.

Looking to the process of dwelling evolution this study asks:

. How was the housing stock of the El Gallo Progressive Urban Development incrementally built over time?

How were dwellings initially built?

How were dwellings progressively built?

In order to identify aspects that affected the process of dwelling evolution in these developments the following question was included:

. Which aspects influenced the process of dwelling evolution at El Gallo?

Finally, to determine the kind of housing which is being produced under progressive development projects, the study asked:

. What are the characteristics of the housing that is being produced at El Gallo?

The study followed the guidelines of the summative evaluation, and the orientation of the evaluation was qualitative (King, J.,L.Morris and C.Taylor 1987). This approach of evaluation is holistic, "data collection and analysis occur interactively as an observation or other data suggest categories for the analysis and additional data needs." (Ibid :24) The objectives were to observe relevant information, and to accurately describe it with sufficient detail so that the documentation produced could be used for successive purposes (i.e., basis for planning or further research).

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2.2 Sources of Information and Collection of Data

The study was based on primary and secondary data. The primary data were aerial photographs taken at different times during the life of the settlement and a survey of a sample of households in the settlement. The survey included personal interviews with the households, as well as house sketches and photographs of each dwelling. The secondary data consisted of demographic and housing statistics and archival documents about the program, project and implementation of El Gallo site and services.

The process of data collection followed three steps. The first step involved a revision of the documentation about housing and the UMUP projects found in the existing literature related to Ciudad Guayana. Other important sources of information were interviews made with key informants of the city. The second step included the design and field testing of the survey and procedures for data collection. This step involved initial inspections of El Gallo identifying relevant dimensions to be included in the study. Based on this information, the sample was selected, and the interview schedule was determined. The interview was field tested, and the necessary modifications were made to it. The last step was the collection of data and the obtaining of aerial photographs of and complementary archival documents on El Gallo.

2.2a Literature and Documentation on Ciudad Guayana

General documentation regarding the UMUP projects developed in Ciudad Guayana since its creation was found in the bibliography related to housing programs produced by the CVG and the Joint Center for Urban Studies of MIT and Harvard. Studies, papers and articles about Ciudad Guayana's process of planning, design and implementation, written mainly by Joint Center staff and other scholars, were found in the Rotch Library of MIT and the Francis Loeb Library of Harvard. Several doctoral and master's theses about the city were also found in these libraries. The Joint Center file maintained by its staff during their consulting period (1960-65) was found in the CVG library. This file was an important source of daily memos, working papers and summaries about the problems faced during the design and implementation of the housing program and the first UMUP projects.

Specific documentation about the UMUP projects and existing evaluations of these were found in CVG's Urban Planning Department and the CVG library. Chartsand maps of Ciudad Guayana were also found in the CVG library. General housing statistics on Ciudad Guayana were taken from the "Censos de Construcción y Vivienda" (construction censuses produced periodically by the CVG's Statistics Department "Gerencia de Estadísticas e Informática").

2.2b Selection of the Case Study

Interviews with Key Informants in Ciudad Guayana:

Interviews were held with professionals involved in the urban development of Ciudad Guayana. These interviews provided personal insights from top decision-making figures responsible for the planning and functioning of the city. Also, the CVG's Department of Social Development provided information and documentation about the administrative procedures followed by the inhabitants in order to have legal access to the land. Finally, the Department of Audiovisual Productions of CVG provided excellent recorded documentation about the inhabitants' process of application, allotment and initial stages of development in Ciudad Guayana's UMUP projects.

UMUP cases of interest were discussed with the staff of the CVG's Department of Urban Planning, a team composed of two architects, a sociologist and a geographer. This department was responsible for the urban planning of the city until 1982. Thereafter, the local government assumed a leading role in the planning operations of the city. Still the CVG owned most of the city's land; thus it played a very important role in the development of the city. The UMUP cases were also discussed with the Urban Planning Director of the local government (an urban planner who had been working since 1989 in the city council after ten years of experience working in the CVG). The knowledge of these informants about each of the projects discussed was important to select the case study in such a limited time

There were no strict selection criteria because in several instances, the characteristics and features available to compare settlements were not analogous. Rather, the selection of the case study was done by counterbalancing these characteristics. However, some preferences were considered in choosing the case study. For instance, old settlements were preferred because they offered the opportunity to observe longer periods of dwelling evolution. A medium-size project was convenient to acquire the best approximate idea of the development of the wholesettlement in a short time. The intention was to select a settlement with the "average" characteristics of most low-income settlements of Ciudad Guayana, in terms of pace of development and growth, attention and support from official institutions, and so on.

Characteristics of the Case Study:

Three settlements were visited, and El Gallo was selected as a case study. Conversations were held with members of the community to confirm certain aspects of the settlement. The following is a descriptive list of the characteristics used to choose "El Gallo" as the case study.

.1 Assistance

As part of an experimental program on urban infrastructure and progressive housing improvement, El Gallo received less assistance than the finished housing programs in Ciudad Guayana. This assistance was comparable to programs of slum improvement.

.2 Servicing

As declared by the neighbourhood association, El Gallo used the same conventional channels to receive services as barrios did. This is detailed in Chapter three.

.3 Housing Provision

People of El Gallo built their houses in the same way as those in Ciudad Guayana's informal settlements. Finished basic dwellings represented less than 50% of the housing stock. The other dwellings were "privately" managed. Many houses were built by small subcontractors. Others involved self-help procedures.

.4 Informal Activities

Informal income-generating activities occurred at El Gallo, contributing to sustain the economy of low-income settlements. At El Gallo these activities included informal small construction, small shops of goods and services, and room renting.

.5 Community Organization

The community of El Gallo was organized similarly to the barrio's communal organization. Inhabitants can be involved in much individual and communalwork in the first stages of settling. However, the intensity of this organization diminished as the communal needs became satisfied.

Assistance was requested from the president of the neighbourhood association (Asociación de Vecinos) to access the houses, and to avoid distrust about the purpose of the survey among the inhabitants. The neighbourhood association was a community organization with the same functions as the barrio "junta."

2.2c Initial Visits to the Site Identifying Relevant Dimensions

The study looked for relevant physical characteristics that reflected the process of evolution of dwellings at El Gallo. Initial visits to El Gallo looked for housing levels of consolidation, construction densities and housing diversity to determine relevant aspects to include in the study.

According to the bibliography and documentation reviewed, El Gallo was the focus of several housing programs. The first one, the loan program of "El Roble" Pilot Project, offered credits for construction materials enabling households to build one of three offered designs on their own. Although plans of the units were available during first observations, only one of them was recognized. It was later known that one of the designs was preferred well over the others by borrowers.

The second program consisted of basic finished units provided by the Malariology Division of the Health Ministry. These were finished dwellings that households became entitled to apply for after the settlement obtained individual services of electricity and water. These kinds of dwellings were identifiable, although several of them had been considerably modified in their external appearance.

The third program was also comprised of basic units, this time produced by the local housing agency Funvica (Fundación para la Vivienda del Caroní). It was the last formal attempt to replace remaining ranchos. Even though several of them had large porch extensions, dwellings were easily recognizable because façades did not have major modifications.

A large number of houses were conceived, financed and built by households themselves. These dwellings emulated designs of the other programs and became easily mistaken for those financed by loans. Moreover, in several instances the household did not know the origin of the dwelling because the occupants were tenants or because the house was inherited or bought from the first household. On the otherhand, none of the oldest inhabitants interviewed was able to identify all the housing programs implemented at El Gallo. They often confused programs with each other and the sequence in which they occurred.

A first attempt to differentiate the housing diversity of El Gallo yielded the following classification, which was the basis to select the sample:

. Formally Produced Dwellings: dwellings of the Malariology and Funvica housing programs, by which households received a finished basic unit.

. Formally Prescribed Dwellings: dwellings of the original Pilot Project and subsequent loan program, by which households received plans and specifications but were responsible for the construction process.

. Self-Produced Dwellings: self-built/self-managed dwellings, whereby households chose the financing method, design, materials and pace of construction of their dwellings.

The diversity of the original housing stock at El Gallo was identified only after aerial photographs were carefully examined. With the aerial documentation and the information collected in the field, it was possible to recognize the dwellings of all the groups mentioned before they were altered. This diversity is explained in section 3.1 of the next chapter.

2.2d Sample

A sample was selected and surveyed with simple criteria in mind: plots in which the first permanent dwelling was totally removed were avoided, average-size dwellings were included and a variety of dwelling forms, sizes and styles was surveyed. No discrimination was made in relation to household tenure or length of permanency in the dwelling. The large majority of dwellings at El Gallo had clear signs of good maintenance and still active evolution. Few plots were overdeveloped; however, they occupied almost the whole plot area and had second stories. These were also avoided in the sample.

The size of the sample (33 dwellings) was a function of the time that was available for the survey. Although dwellings of all groups were surveyed, the sample did not attempt to be representative of the whole housing diversity of El Gallo. The sample was rather a small portion of this housing diversity, and the analysis was limited to this sample.

2.2e Design of Interview, Interview Schedule, Field Testing and Modifications

An open-ended interview schedule was elaborated and field-tested in sample interviews which are not included in the final set of data. This process of field-testing yielded a version of the questionnaire that facilitated a better cooperation of interviewed people. Major changes made to the questionnaire consisted in simplifying the explanation of the purpose of the study, using popular language and local expressions and reorganizing the questions.

An average day during the survey process went from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm and from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. These hours were chosen in order to avoid interrupting families at meal time, and to take advantage of natural light for shooting pictures. Schedule arrangements were always made the day before in order to have the neighbourhood association president present during the interviews. Some time was lost because of the heavy rainy season.

2.2f Data Collection

Interviews were made by a team of two researchers. An interview routine began with the introduction of the researchers by the neighbourhood association president to the head of the family or an adult member of the household who knew about the family history since their arrival to El Gallo. The team explained the purpose of the survey and the different parts of the interview. After being authorized, one researcher walked around the house, making the sketches while the interview was being conducted by the other researcher. General introductory and anecdotal questions helped to gain trust of the interviewee. Each interview was usually completed in ten to twenty minutes. Sketching the plan of the house normally took 20 minutes, depending on the size of the house. Finally, taking general measures and pictures of the house took other 20 minutes. The time to survey one house was about 60 minutes.

Sketches of the plan of each dwelling were elaborated, indicating measurements, construction materials, furnishing, vegetation, and use of the space. An average of 20 slides was taken of each dwelling, showing interior and exterior aspects of the dwellings. Drafts and slides were used to draw detailed plans of each dwelling.

Thirty-three houses were surveyed at El Gallo in a period of two weeks. As mentioned earlier, the dependence on the availability of the neighbourhood association president and the weather were limitations on the working schedule.

2.2g Aerial Photographs

Aerial documentation consisting of photographs, charts, maps and plans of the settlement were collected from different sources. Aerial photographs were provided by the Venezuelan Ministry of the Environment and the engineering company that took them, Tranarg. Fortunately, the growth of Ciudad Guayana during the first ten years of existence was recorded yearly in aerial missions. The frequency of the missions was reduced in the last twenty years. However, a picture of the complete process was obtained with approximately 5-year intervals. The years selected were 1964, 1967, 1974, 1980, 1983, and 1987.

Negatives of the photographs were 25 x 25 cm in their original size, but they were enlarged to 100 x 100 cm. In the case of El Gallo this provided clear images of the dwellings in a 1:250 scale.

2.2h Archival Documents

Specific statistical information about El Gallo was extracted by the CVG's Statistics Department from statistical information stored in the computer files of the CVG. Information was obtained from the two censuses that were made of the complete population in 1967 and in 1974. The censuses of 1971, 1980 and 1987 corresponded to updates made of the previous censuses by sample surveying.

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2.3 Strategy of Analysis

Based on field observations and limited by the data collected, a model of analysis was designed to obtain the best possible picture of how the sampled dwellings evolved over time. In order to show dwelling evolution, measurements taken were used to calculate the size of the dwelling, sketches of the dwelling plan were used to identify additions and changes to existing spaces, and current and past uses of the spaces were obtained through interviews. This information provided three dimensions of change that comprehensively reflected the process of dwelling evolution at El Gallo. In addition to this, the sample was stratified according the different origins of the dwellings.

Thus, a stratified longitudinal analysis was made to the sample in each of the following dimensions:

- Area Increase or increase of roofed area of the dwelling produced by the successive addition of new structures to the original one. Area increase of the dwellings was traced measuring the roofed area of sampled dwellings in the different times showed by the aerial photographs. The scale of the photographs allowed direct measurements of the dwellings; however, measurements were double-checked from plans drawn from the survey data. Profiles of dwelling growth were obtained by manipulating the figures of dwelling area over time.

- Additions and changes to the spatial structure of the dwelling were the successive changes of the shape of the dwelling according to the location of new additions in relation to the plot and the previous structure. Analysis of these changes was based on observations of the aerial photographs, house plans and households' testimonies about the process of construction. This dimension considered how additions were built with respect to the existing structure, as well as changes made to the existing spaces. Drawings were made of the initial and successive plans of each dwelling in order to obtain the incremental process of construction.

- Additions and changes to the use-layout of the dwelling included additions, as well as changes of space functions that altered the existing use-layout of the dwelling. This information relied mainly on the use of spaces observed during the survey, declarations provided by the households and in plans of the units originally built by the housing agencies. Changes in the use-layout revealed the changing functional priorities and needs of the household.

This study was based on data recorded over a period of 27 years, starting from the legal creation of the settlement up to August 1991. The available material had some limitations that needed to be clarified at this point. Aerial photographs allowed identification of periods of time within which changes in the dimensions of the study happened. However, when these changes occurred exactly could not be determined. Therefore, the study will consider changes occurring within these periods of time between one photograph and the next. These periods were called stages of dwelling evolution or growth.

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Also, because several households skipped the "rancho" or shack stage, this was not considered the first stage of dwelling evolution as it usually had been in similarstudies. Furthermore, ranchos were built with temporary materials which were eventually replaced with a different structure built with permanent materials. Consequently, the first record of a non-permanent structure was called the initial stage, and it was separated from the first record of the permanent dwelling or first stage. This differentiation allowed comparisons between dimensions of the study (see Fig.4).

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2.4 Summary

The chapter presented main and secondary research questions focusing the process of dwelling evolution in progressive developments projects. Sources of information were listed and described. The procedures to select the case study, to design the interview, and to collect the data were explained. Finally, a brief of the methodology to process the data collected for the analysis was described. Emphasis was placed on the three dimensions of dwelling evolution that would be observed, area increase, extension of the spatial structure and additions and changes to the functional layout. The procedures for the analysis were also described. Dwelling evolution was observed in stages of evolution, and the first permanent dwelling was the point of reference for the analysis.

. Notes for Chapter II

1 There are two more copies of this file. One is located in the Widener Library at Harvard, and the other one is at MIT.

2 In most pilot projects there is so much attention given to all aspects of the project that they are hardly realistic examples. Moreover, sometimes pilot projects receive special support to assure the "success" of the experience.

In Ciudad Guayana, several of the first UMUP projects received a great deal of attention trying to make them a model. For instance, the UD 102 and UD 103 are usually regarded by planners and those involved in their design as the best examples of the strategy. The amount of resources put into these UMUPs, however, does not make them an example either of affordability or replicability.

3 Observations at El Gallo coincide with MacDonald's comments that within the Ciudad Guayana site and services, public housing was less extensive than privately funded housing:

Thus public housing made up a quarter of dwellings in sites-and-services barrios, private houses 31% and shanties 45% (MacDonald, John S. 1979:111).

4 The Junta is composed of residents of the community. Normally it has one or more persons with the ability to handle public relations and verbal expression. At least one member of the current political party will be in the junta.

A barrio junta is a small committee consisting of between seven and nine residents. Its declared function is to represent the barrio before the city officials and try to obtain basic community facilities (Ray, Talton 1969:43).

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