Within Santiago, Chile’s capital city, Barrio is a fundamental urban concept: an identity of place that defines a social
space more than the territorial boundary of a designated area. Nearly 30 years of sustained, economic growth have
positioned Chile, and Santiago with 40% of the country’s population, as a tourist, financial and investment centre for
South America. After a general decline of the inner-city area during the time of dictatorship (1973-1990), three innercity
residential barrios are being re-defined by their social and urban heritage as part of the “coolest” city of South
America. These residential barrios possess the social characteristics of an urban unit within the concept of an ethical
city—autonomy, conviviality, connectivity and diversity—and, in form and use, the basis of urban cultural tourism, a
living heritage of residential architecture, public space and urban culture. The spatial and economic transformation of
these barrios shifts the existing dynamic between the residents’ social capital and the barrios’ symbolic capital to the
question of whose rights and interest should prevail. Through a literature review, policy review and an analysis of morphology
and land use of three barrios, this article draws lessons to assist a re-thinking of the development of this urban,
social-spatial unit of Chilean cities.
Keywords: Place, Residents, “Barrio”, Urban Transformations, Cultural Tourism
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