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Cristóbal Palma

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Spotlight: Alejandro Aravena

06:00 - 22 June, 2016
Spotlight: Alejandro Aravena, Innovation Center UC - Anacleto Angelini. Image © Nico Saieh
Innovation Center UC - Anacleto Angelini. Image © Nico Saieh

As founder of the “Do Tank” firm ELEMENTAL, Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena (born on June 22, 1967) is perhaps the most socially engaged architect to receive the Pritzker Prize. Far from the usual aesthetic-driven approach, Aravena explains that “We don’t think of ourselves as artists. Architects like to build things that are unique. But if something is unique it can’t be repeated, so in terms of it serving many people in many places, the value is close to zero.” [1] For Aravena, the architect’s primary goal is to improve people's way of life by assessing both social needs and human desires, as well as political, economic and environmental issues.

It’s Elementary (Not): On the Architecture of Alejandro Aravena

09:30 - 25 January, 2016
Siamese Towers. Image © Cristobal Palma
Siamese Towers. Image © Cristobal Palma

When reading about the work of Alejandro Aravena, it can sometimes seem like two distinct discussions: one about his widely praised social housing innovations, and another about his impressive (albeit more conventional in scope) buildings for universities and municipalities. In this post originally shared on his Facebook page Hashim Sarkis, the Dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning, connects the two apparently separate threads of Aravena's architecture, discovering the underlying beliefs that guide this year's Pritzker Prize winner.

Much of the work of Alejandro Aravena, whether designed alone or with the group ELEMENTAL, embodies a eureka moment, a moment where after a careful interrogation of the program with the client, the architect comes up with a counterintuitive but simple response to the charge. (For the computer center at the Catholic University, the labs have to be both dark and well-lit. For the social housing in Iquique, instead of a full good house that you cannot afford, you get a half good house that you can). In turn, these simple equations are embodied in buildings that usually acquire similarly simple forms. The clients and occupants repeat the “aha” with Aravena’s same tone and realization. “If I cannot convincingly convey the design idea over the phone, then I know it is a bad idea,” he says.

Las Cruces Lookout Point. Image © Iwan Baan Design for Casa OchoQuebradas. Image Courtesy of ELEMENTAL Innovation Center UC - Anacleto Angelini. Image © Nico Saieh Quinta Monroy housing. Image Courtesy of ELEMENTAL +11

Alejandro Aravena Wins 2016 Pritzker Prize

09:10 - 13 January, 2016
Alejandro Aravena Wins 2016 Pritzker Prize

Alejandro Aravena has been named as the winner of the 2016 Pritzker Prize. Highlighting his dedication to improve urban environments and to address the global housing crisis, the Pritzker Prize jury praised the way in which the Chilean architect has "risen to the demands of practicing architecture as an artful endeavor, as well as meeting today's social and economic challenges." Aravena is the 41st Pritzker Prize laureate and the first Chilean to receive the award.

At 48 years of age, Aravena has a large portfolio of private, public and educational projects in Chile, the USA, Mexico, China and Switzerland. But perhaps more notably, through his “Do Tank” firm ELEMENTAL he has managed to build 2,500 units of social housing, engaging in the public housing policies of governments where he works and taking an opportunistic approach to market forces to generate a powerful impact on lower-income communities.

"Alejandro Aravena epitomizes the revival of a more socially engaged architect, especially in his long-term commitment to tackling the global housing crisis and fighting for a better urban environment for all,” explained the Jury in their citation. “He has a deep understanding of both architecture and civil society, as is reflected in his writing, his activism and his designs. The role of the architect is now being challenged to serve greater social and humanitarian needs, and Alejandro Aravena has clearly, generously and fully responded to this challenge."

UC Innovation Center – Anacleto Angelini, San Joaquín Campus, Universidad Católica de Chile. Santiago, Chile 2014. Image © Nina Vidic Monterrey Housing. Monterrey, Mexico 2010. Image © Ramiro Ramirez Medical School, Universidad Católica de Chile. Santiago, Chile 2004. Image © Roland Halbe Siamese Towers, San Joaquín Campus, Universidad Católica de Chile. Santiago, Chile 2005. Image © Cristobal Palma +23

Radical Cities, Radical Solutions: Justin McGuirk's Book Finds Opportunities In Unexpected Places

10:30 - 10 May, 2015
Radical Cities, Radical Solutions: Justin McGuirk's Book Finds Opportunities In Unexpected Places, Elemental's Quinta Monroy houses in Chile have become a poster-image for Latin America's activist architecture. Image © Cristóbal Palma
Elemental's Quinta Monroy houses in Chile have become a poster-image for Latin America's activist architecture. Image © Cristóbal Palma

Justin McGuirk's book Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture is fast becoming a seminal text in the architecture world. Coming off the back of his Golden-Lion-winning entry to the 2012 Venice Biennale, created with Urban Think Tank and Iwan Baan, McGuirk's work has become a touchstone for the architecture world's recent interest in both low-cost housing solutions and in Latin America. This review of Radical Cities by Joshua K Leon was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Finding Radical Alternatives in Slums, Exurbs, and Enclaves."

Justin McGuirk’s Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture should be required reading for anyone looking for ways out of the bleak social inequality we’re stuck in. There were 40 million more slum dwellers worldwide in 2012 than there were in 2010, according to the UN. Private markets clearly can’t provide universal housing in any way approaching efficiency, and governments are often hostile to the poor. The only alternative is collective action at the grassroots level, and I’ve never read more vivid reporting on the subject.

Second Solo House to Open Its Doors

00:00 - 6 October, 2014
Second Solo House to Open Its Doors, Casa Office KGDVS / Office KGDVS. Image © by-encore.com, via Solo Houses
Casa Office KGDVS / Office KGDVS. Image © by-encore.com, via Solo Houses

What happens when eight world-renowned architects are given carte blanche to design holiday homes on a dream site in Spain? This is precisely what French developer Christian Bourdais set out to discover with the launch of the Solo House project in 2010, and now, you can find out for yourself. Just two years after the completion of Solo Pezo, by Chilean architect Pezo von Ellrichshausen, the second of twelve houses is now emerging for tours and site visits. Solo OFFICE, by Office Kersten Geers David van Severen, will open its doors to visitors this week, October 9 through 11, as it nears fruition. 

Rodrigo Nino: In Defense of Crowdsourcing and Crowdfunding

00:00 - 24 April, 2014
The 17John Building in New York. Image Courtesy of Prodigy Network
The 17John Building in New York. Image Courtesy of Prodigy Network

As both crowdsourcing and crowdfunding gather momentum in the architecture world, they also gather criticism. The crowdsourcing design website Arcbazar, for example, has recently attracted critics who label it as “the worst thing to happen to architecture since the internet started.” A few months ago, I myself strongly criticized the 17John apartment-hotel in New York for stretching the definition of "crowdfunding" to the point where it lost validity, essentially becoming a meaningless buzzword.

In response to this criticism, I spoke to Rodrigo Nino, the founder of Prodigy Network, the company behind 17 John, who offered to counter my argument. Read on after the break for his take on the benefits of tapping into the 'wisdom of crowds.'

Wood Encouragement Policy Coming To Australia

00:00 - 22 April, 2014
Wood Encouragement Policy Coming To Australia, Cross Stitch House; Melbourne / FMD Architects. Image © Peter Bennetts
Cross Stitch House; Melbourne / FMD Architects. Image © Peter Bennetts

Latrobe City Council is pushing an initiative that would put “wood first.” If implemented, the “Wood Encouragement Policy” would educate architects and industry professionals about the structural and environmental benefits of wood in an effort to promote the local timber industry and use of sustainable building materials. Following the lead of the United States and New Zealand, both of which recently established “wood encouragement” policies, the council hopes that this will set a precedent that can be applied throughout the rest of Australia. 

VIDEO: "Ambient 30_60 - Yap_Constructo" by Cristobal Palma

00:00 - 18 April, 2014

Cristobal Palma from Estudio Palma presents his latest video of Ambient 30 60, UMWELT's pavilion for Yap_Constructo 2014 in Chile. The video aptly captures the spirit of the Young Architects Program (YAP) -- an annual collaboration between the MoMA and MoMA PS1 that takes place in Istanbul, New York, Rome and Santiago.

Synthon Laboratory Building / GH+A | Guillermo Hevia

01:00 - 17 April, 2014
Synthon Laboratory Building  / GH+A | Guillermo Hevia, © Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

© Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh +37

Carozzi Production and Research Food Center / GH+A | Guillermo Hevia

01:00 - 14 April, 2014
Carozzi Production and Research Food Center / GH+A | Guillermo Hevia, © Cristobal Palma
© Cristobal Palma

© Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh +43

  • Architects

  • Location

    San Bernardo, Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile
  • Architects in Charge

    Tomás Villalón A., Francisco Carrión G., Javier González E.
  • Project Area

    52.0 m2
  • Project Year

    2012
  • Photographs

Eight Ingenious Interiors

00:00 - 19 March, 2014

In case you missed it, we’re re-publishing this popular post for your material pleasure. Enjoy!

Continuing with our materials-themed posts celebrating the launch of AD Materials (our US product catalog), we decided to round-up eight materials/products (from a light fixture made from woven irrigation hoses - really - to a wall made from shoeboxes) that make their interiors truly ingenious. Enjoy!

Imagine 2020: Denver Launches Arts-First Public Policy

00:00 - 10 March, 2014
Imagine 2020: Denver Launches Arts-First Public Policy, Screen shot from Cristobal Palma's documentation of Denver's Biennial of the Americas 2013 exhibition. Click the image to view.
Screen shot from Cristobal Palma's documentation of Denver's Biennial of the Americas 2013 exhibition. Click the image to view.

The City of Denver has launched “Imagine 2020,” a pro-arts cultural plan that will pave the way for more city-wide “art opportunities” over the next seven years. According to the Denver Post, this initiative will include the revision of “plans, permits and codes” to allow for more installations, offer small micro-art grants for residents and neighborhoods, and establish large public gathering places throughout the city. You can learn more, here

Under Construction: Place of Remembrance / Barclay & Crousse

01:00 - 29 January, 2014
Under Construction: Place of Remembrance / Barclay & Crousse, © Cristobal Palma
© Cristobal Palma
  • Architects

  • Location

    Lima, Peru
  • Project Architects

    Sandra Barclay and Jean Pierre Crousse
  • Collaborators

    Paulo Shimabukuro, Carlos Fernandez, Sebastián Cilloniz, Rosa Aguirre, Mauricio Sialer
  • Project Area

    4896.0 m2
  • Project Year

    2014
  • Photography

© Cristobal Palma © Cristobal Palma © Cristobal Palma © Cristobal Palma +27

Cien House / Pezo von Ellrichshausen

01:00 - 13 January, 2014
© Cristóbal Palma
© Cristóbal Palma
  • Architects

    Pezo von Ellrichshausen
  • Location

    Lo Pequeñ 411-465, Concepción, Bío Bío Region, Chile
  • Design Team

    Mauricio Pezo, Sofía von Ellrichshausen
  • Project Area

    430.0 m2
  • Project Year

    2011
  • Photography

    Cristóbal Palma, Courtesy of Pezo von Ellrichshausen

© Cristóbal Palma © Cristóbal Palma © Cristóbal Palma © Cristóbal Palma +30

Bestias XX / MoVe architects

01:00 - 8 January, 2014
Bestias XX / MoVe architects, © Cristobal Palma
© Cristobal Palma
  • Architects

  • Location

    Providencia 2124, Providencia, Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile
  • Architect in Charge

    Paula Velasco, Max Velasco, Alberto Moletto
  • Area

    12.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2012
  • Photographs

© Cristobal Palma © Cristobal Palma © MoVe architects © Cristobal Palma +13

Children's Bicentennial Park / ELEMENTAL

01:00 - 26 December, 2013
Children's Bicentennial Park / ELEMENTAL, © Cristobal Palma
© Cristobal Palma

© Cristobal Palma © Cristobal Palma © Cristobal Palma © Cristobal Palma +20

  • Architects

  • Location

    Perú, Recoleta, Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile
  • Design Team

    Alejandro Aravena, Ricardo Torrejón, Víctor Oddó, Juan Cerda, Fernando García-Huidobro, Gabriela Larraín, Rebecca Emmons
  • Area

    40000.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2012
  • Photographs

Solo Houses: When Architects Are Given Carte Blanche

01:00 - 18 December, 2013
Solo Houses: When Architects Are Given Carte Blanche , Casa Fujimoto / Sou Fujimoto. Image © by-encore.com, via Solo Houses
Casa Fujimoto / Sou Fujimoto. Image © by-encore.com, via Solo Houses

French developer Christian Bourdais has enlisted eight architects to develop vacation homes on a 50-hectare nature reserve about two hours south of Barcelona. So far, so normal. However, each participant in the "Solo Houses" experiment was given what every architect dreams of (and hardly ever receives): carte blanche. The results, from the likes of Sou Fujimoto, Pezo von Ellrichshausen, and more, are stunning. See them all after the break... 

Casa Faustino / Didier Faustino. Image © by-encore.com, via Solo Houses Casa Johnston Marklee / Johnston Marklee. Image © by-encore.com, via Solo Houses Casa Office KGDVS / Office KGDVS. Image © by-encore.com, via Solo Houses Casa Pezo / Pezo von Ellrichshausen. Image © Cristobal Palma +23

Casa La Cañada / Ricardo Torrejón

00:00 - 21 October, 2013
Casa La Cañada / Ricardo Torrejón, © Cristóbal Palma
© Cristóbal Palma

© Cristóbal Palma © Cristóbal Palma © Cristóbal Palma © Cristóbal Palma +26