Not far from the travelling routes, in the city centre of Ushuaia (Argentina), more than a thousand families have found a shelter among the trees in the area of El Escondido.
Between 2001 and 2010 the population of Ushuaia grew of 25% after a huge industrial growth, which was planned ahead. During that period Argentinians and people from other Latin American states, mostly Bolivians, came to the city for finding a job. But they did not know that they would have found also a very high cost of living, which became more and more unbearable, together with a scarce availability of council housings.
That was the reason many people were forced to find an alternative solution to this home problem. So they had the idea of self – bulding their houses, establishing the future settlement of El Escondido.
The problem of where to build in a so highly populated city lying between the Beagle Channel and the mountains was soon resolved. They chose the highest part of the city, where the beech wood begins, and where (how ironic!) the view was the most breathtaking. Most likely that was a good place because by simply cutting down trees they could obtain the needed space.
Different civic and ecologist associations protested against them, calling them “usurpers” and despite the effort made by the local government to limit this phenomenon (for instance, it established a cooperative of surveillance, so that any building materials could not enter the area) the usurped area continued to grow without any pianification, either urban or social or environmental. It was named respectively: El Mirador, El Obrero, Esperanza and so on.
Nowadays about 60% of the population of El Escondido does not live in a proper house. In the quarter there is no running water, neither electricity nor drainage system and the gas is brought in through tanks. The heating is totally inadequate for the low temperatures of the area. Moreover, due to the huge deforestation, there is a high risk of landslides and avalanches considering the fact that the area has a very high seismic risk too.
The housing emergence has altered the rare beauty of this landscape in a very uncommon way. No solution has been found so costfar: the problem is still open, and it regards the Tierra del Fuego in general as well as the inhabitants of El Escondido, who came to the end of the world following a dream.