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Alejandro Aravena Appointed Director of the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale

Today, in Venice, the Board of la Biennale di Venezia named Chilean architect and Pritzker jury member Alejandro Aravena as the Director of the 15th International Architecture Exhibition. Held bi-annually in the capital city of Italy's Veneto region, the 2016 edition of the Biennale will take place from May 28 - November 27, 2016.

Citing the increasing popularity and success of the previous Architecture Biennales, chairman Paolo Baratta confirmed, "after many years in which the Architecture Biennale has continued to grow, we may now consolidate the decision to make it last six months, given the steady increment in the attendance of architecture schools from all over the world who come to participate in the Biennale Sessions project, and have made the Architecture Biennale a pilgrimage destination for students and teachers from the universities of many countries, from the United States to China.”

TED Talk: My Architectural Philosophy? Bring the Community Into the Process / Alejandro Aravena

“If there is any power in design, that’s the power of synthesis.”

In this TED Talk Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, the founder of ELEMENTAL, speaks about some of the design challenges he has faced in Chile and his innovative approaches to solving them. Emphasizing the need for simplicity in design, Aravena talks about three of his projects: the Quinta Monroy social housing project, through which he developed the “half-finished home” typology for governments to provide quality homes at incredibly low-prices; his “inside-out” design for the Pontifical Catholic University’s Innovation Center UC – Anacelto Angelini, which reduced energy costs by two-thirds; and lastly his masterplan for rebuilding a resilient coastline in Constitución Chile after the city was hit by the 2010 earthquake.

Aravena also emphasized the importance of community participation in his projects, saying: “We won’t ever solve the problem unless we use people’s own capacity to build.” Watch Aravena’s full talk above and take a peek at some of his key projects below. 

TED Talk: My Architectural Philosophy? Bring the Community Into the Process / Alejandro Aravena TED Talk: My Architectural Philosophy? Bring the Community Into the Process / Alejandro Aravena TED Talk: My Architectural Philosophy? Bring the Community Into the Process / Alejandro Aravena TED Talk: My Architectural Philosophy? Bring the Community Into the Process / Alejandro Aravena

Video: Alejandro Aravena on PRES Constitución and Rebuilding After Disaster

Santiago-based architect Alejandro Aravena of Elemental discusses the sustainable reconstruction of Constitución in Chile following a devastating earthquake in 2010. Given just 100 days to design a resilient masterplan, capable of protecting the city against future natural disasters, Elemental implemented a natural solution: planting a forest that would protect the city from future floods. The design has since receive international recognition, most recently being awarded first prize in the Zumtobel Group Award’s Urban Development & Initiatives category.

Exclusive Video: Innovation Center UC - Anacleto Angelini / Alejandro Aravena | ELEMENTAL

Chile is recognized internationally for the quality of its architecture, even though its most lauded projects are not often found in urban areas. At a time when the true potential of Chilean architecture seems absent from the South American country's cities, Alejandro Aravena | ELEMENTAL has designed a conceptually - and physically - dense project in Santiago.  

Japanese and Chilean Architects Collaborate to Design Houses for the Ochoalcubo Project

Ochoalcubo (Eight-Cubed) is a pioneering project in Chile that seeks to unite leading Chilean and Japanese practices with ground-breaking architecture. The collaborative enterprise was started by Eduardo Godoy, a design impresario who began working in Chile in the 1980s and who has always been a strong advocate for innovative design and architecture in the country. For a nation that boasts more than forty individual schools of architecture, the ever growing number of professionals seems to have had a relatively small impact on Chilean cities. Faced with the seemingly infinite landscape of 'cookie-cutter housing' in the suburbs, Godoy implemented Ochoalcubo in order to provide opportunities for young professionals, alongside fostering a new kind of appreciation for the profession itself. With a large number of architects having taken part in the first stage, including Smiljan Radic (designer of the 2014 Serpentine Pavilion), the third and fourth stage of what is certainly one of the world's largest active architectural laboratories will be launched in the coming days.

See images from all sixteen proposals from third and fourth stages of the Ochoalcubo project, including those by SANAASou FujimotoKengo KumaAlejandro Aravena and Atelier Bow Wow, after the break.

Holcim Foundation Announces Jury for 2015 Global Award

The Holcim Foundation has announced the global jury for the 2015 Holcim Awards, its triennial prize which encourages architects, planners, engineers, project owners and students to share their projects and visions that "go beyond conventional notions of sustainable construction."

The 2015 prize is the Holcim Foundation's fourth cycle, and this year will feature a total prize fund of $2 million - a significant increase on their 2012 prize fund of $300,000. To oversee the awards, they have recruited independent experts of international stature, including the Deans of the Harvard Graduate School of Design and ETH Zurich, and Alejandro Aravena of Chilean practice Elemental.

Read on after the break for the full list of jurors and more on the prize

Pritzker Juror Alejandro Aravena on Shigeru Ban: Virtuousity in Service of Our Most Urgent Challenges

The following is Alejandro Aravena's response to the Shigeru Ban's Pritzker winAravena is the executive director of the firm ELEMENTAL S.A and a member of the Pritzker Jury who selected Ban as this year's Pritzker Laureate.

Shigeru Ban has expanded the field of architecture in unexpected ways. He has proved that the inspired artist and the skilled designer is not inevitably condemned to work for a privileged elite, but that innovation can take place while working for the majority, particularly those historically underserved, forgotten or neglected. In order to do that, he redefined the approach to deal with difficult, urgent and relevant challenges, replacing professional charity by professional quality. Ban has shown that no matter how tough the circumstances or scarce the means, good design far from being an extra cost carries the added value of sharp efficiency, power of synthesis and an uplifting feeling.

ArchDaily App Guide: Sketchfab

ArchDaily’s Architecture App Guide will introduce you to web and mobile apps that can help you as an architect: productivity, inspiration, drafting, and more.

3D computer modeling has become a ubiquitous tool in architecture and design, but - even now - there’s no real solution to the problem of easily displaying or sharing models. An exciting new tool, however, might just change this. It’s called Sketchfab, and it displays 3D models natively in the browser - no plugins necessary, and no need to download to your desktop. A resource like this allows any viewer or reader to glimpse into the future of publishing and communicating architecture online.

Users sign up for Sketchfab and upload models directly in 27 native 3D formats (including .3ds, .stl, .kmz, .dwf, .lwo and others); these models can then be embedded anywhere. Not only will this allow architects to showcase finalized projects, but designs can be followed as they evolve and change. It will be particularly valuable in the remote review process that occurs between the architect and 3D visualizers. And Sketchfab’s platform has an integrated comment and like system to foster discussion and critique.

AD Interviews: Alejandro Aravena / ELEMENTAL, Venice Biennale

Alejandro Aravena, Executive Director of ELEMENTAL, tells us more about The Magnet and The Bomb, their exhibit at the Venice Biennale. You can learn more about the projects presented at this installation: PRES Constitución and Calama PLUS.

'Elemental Recent Projects: Monoliths and Trees' Lecture by Alejandro Aravena at MIT

Alejandro Aravena, based in Santiago de Chile, will be giving a lecture at MIT on the theme of ‘Elemental Recent Projects: Monoliths and Trees’. After the 8.8 earthquake and tsunami that hit Chile in 2010, they have worked in the reconstruction by proposing a mitigation forest as the main infrastructural work, but also dealing with housing, public buildings, productive activities and transportation. In 2011 they were called to perform a similar redesign of an entire city in the Atacama desert, where the Chilean Copper Company, Codelco, commissioned them to intervene at the whole scale of Calama where they are proposing an oasis. They have been also working in different buildings like the Angelini Innovation Center in Chile and the Mirador del Diablo in Mexico where architecture has become rather monolithic. The event, which is free and open to the public, takes place Thursday, April 19th at 6:30pm at MIT Building 10, room 250. For more information, please visit here.

Wang Shu by Alejandro Aravena

Ningbo Museum of History, photo © Iwan Baan
Ningbo Museum of History, photo © Iwan Baan

We had the exclusive opportunity to interview Pritzker Prize Jury Alejandro Aravena about Wang Shu’s work and the reasons of his selection as the 2012 Pritzker Prize laureate, where he cites extracts of conversations with the Chinese architect. Wang Shu’s outstanding architecture may be the consequence of being able to combine talent and intelligence. This combination allows him to produce masterpieces when a monument is needed, but also very careful and contained architecture when a monument is not the case. The intensity of his work may be a consequence of his relative youth, but the precision and appropriateness of his operations talk of great maturity. Consider Ningbo Museum of History: it is so powerful, so overwhelming that it deserves to be called a masterpiece. You don’t visit the building; you are hit by the building. I remember having felt the same only a few times in my life, like when visiting Kahn’s Parliament in Bangladesh or his Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. Being “hit” by a building happens very rarely in architecture, because that kind of impact tends to belong more to music or film, where the experience of a piece can be extremely moving and touching to the point of altering the mood in a deep positive way. Unfortunately this cannot be transmitted by photographs.

Architecture City Guide: Austin

Courtesy of flickr's common creative license / Chris Yasick
Courtesy of flickr's common creative license / Chris Yasick

Vitra Showroom

This past weekend, we were invited to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Panton chair and other Vitra creations at their showroom in the Meatpacking District in Manhattan.  The showroom was buzzing with people socializing and viewing the different designs on the showroom’s staggered levels.  We were especially excited to see Alejandro Aravena’s novel “Chairless“,  a strap of fabric that is a way to eliminate the need for the traditional chair, and yet allows the person to become the integral part of the furniture. Inspired by the Ayoreo Indians who sit on the ground with a tight strap around their back, Aravena developed this concept to produce a seating device that  relieves the spine and legs.  “It is obvious that many things have evolved since the beginning of time and that progress has accumulated in our lives in the form of sophisticated needs and desires. But it is also true that there are many things and needs that haven’t changed much since our origins and they can still be satisfied in an extremely simple way: sitting comfortably on the ground is one of them,” explained Aravena. More about Vitra after the break.

Alejandro Aravena wins Marcus Prize for Architecture

During the spring 2010 semester (January through May, 2010), Alejandro Aravena will make scheduled visits to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning, focusing a graduate studio on specific challenges in architecture that inspire enduring benefits to Milwaukee’s urban fabric.

Architecture as Investment, a public debate with Alejandro Aravena

Urban Age Public Debate Series presents “Architecture as Investment, New Forms of Social  Equity”, with ELEMENTAL‘s Executive Director Alejandro Aravena.

The Architectural League NY lectures / Alejandro Aravena

Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena will continue with The Architectural League NY lectures today in The Urban Center, at 7:00pm.

Aravena has been in practice since 1994 and since 2006 has also served as Executive Director of ELEMENTAL S.A., a “Do Tank” for the design and implementation of urban projects of social interest and public impact. His work includes the Mathematics Faculty, the Medical Faculty, the computer facility “Siamese Tower,” and the Architecture School at the Universidad Católica, Santiago, Chile; House for a Sculptor; House in the Pirehueico Lake; new residence and dining halls for St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas; children’s workshops and training facilities for Vitra in Weil am Rhein, Germany; a Villa in Ordos, Inner Mongolia; and social housing and urban projects for Elemental. In 2009, Aravena was appointed a member of the Pritzker Prize Jury.

He has received several awards, including Silver Lion at the XI Venice Biennale, 1st Prize in the XII and the XV Santiago Biennale, the Erich Schelling Architecture Medal 2006 (Germany), finalist in the Mies van der Rohe Award (2000), top 10 finalist in the Iakhov Chernikhov Prize 2008 (Moscow), and finalist in the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture 2008 (Paris).

Tickets are required for admission to League programs. Tickets are free for League members; $10 for non-members. Members may reserve a ticket by e-mailing: rsvp@archleague.org. Member tickets will be held at the check-in desk; unclaimed tickets will be released fifteen minutes after the start of the program. Non-members may purchase tickets online here.

For more information, click here. All the lectures after the break.

A new jury for the Pritzker

Past laureates include Herzog & de Meuron, Frank Ghery, Zaha Hadid, Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Thom Mayne, Jean Nouvel, Rem Koolhaas, Norman Foster, Alvaro Siza… and a long list of prominent architects that you might already know.