Why Aravena's Open Source Project is a Huge Step Toward Better, Cheaper Housing for Everyone

09:50 - 29 April, 2016
Why Aravena's Open Source Project is a Huge Step Toward Better, Cheaper Housing for Everyone

This article by Paperhouses founder Joana Pacheco was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Aravena's Small Step, Open Source's Big Leap."

When Alejandro Aravena was awarded the Pritzker Prize earlier this month, he made a remarkable and significant announcement: he had published the plans of four of his social housing projects on his website, for anyone and everyone to study and use.

Through the work of his firm Elemental, Aravena is known for his interest in incremental, participatory housing design: a common-sense way of working within financial restraints and a cornerstone of Elemental’s studio work. The motto—focus first on what is most difficult to achieve, what cannot be done individually, and what will guarantee the common good in the future—resulted in a “half a house.” First introduced over a decade ago, the model consists of an expandable 40 square-meter (431 square-feet) container with basic infrastructure (partitions, structural and firewalls, bathroom, kitchen, stairs, a roof) built-in and added to over time. It is not only an achievement from a conceptual and project management standpoint, but also an aesthetically open and diverse project. From this one idea stemmed 100 variations.

Alejandro Aravena's Pritzker Prize Acceptance Speech

14:45 - 25 April, 2016
Courtesy of ©The Hyatt Foundation / The Pritzker Architecture Prize
Courtesy of ©The Hyatt Foundation / The Pritzker Architecture Prize

ArchDaily is pleased to share, with the permission of The Hyatt Foundation and The Pritzker Architecture Prize, a transcript of Alejandro Aravena's acceptance speech at the April 4, 2016 award ceremony for the 2016 Pritzker Prize presented at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Brazil Announces Exhibition Theme for 2016 Venice Biennale

08:00 - 8 April, 2016

Responding to curator Alejandro Aravena's theme "Reporting from the front," the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo has selected Washington Fajardo to present an exhibition titled “JUNTOS.” The project for the Brazilian pavilion will highlight stories of people who have fought to achieve changes in institutional passivity in Brazil's big cities. They have created architecture within slow processes, bringing stable solutions in a politically tumultuous territory. According to the curator, “the exhibition is a composition of these pathways and partnerships, where activism meets architects and architecture, becoming a magnet in the preparation of a new space.”

ELEMENTAL Releases Plans of 4 Housing Projects for Open-Source Use

21:00 - 5 April, 2016
ELEMENTAL Releases Plans of 4 Housing Projects for Open-Source Use

The 2016 Pritzker laureate Alejandro Aravena has announced that his firm, ELEMENTAL, has chosen to release four of their social housing designs to the public for open source use. Speaking in a panel discussion held by the Pritzker Prize earlier tonight titled Challenges Ahead for the Built Environment, Aravena stressed the need to work together to tackle the challenge of rapid migration that is taking place all around the globe, a message closely tied to the theme of the upcoming Venice Biennale which Aravena is directing. In this spirit, DWGs of these four designs - which offer the basic elements of a house at a low budget and encourage the residents to expand into an adjacent space as they find the money to do so - will be available for architects worldwide to learn from.

Watch the Pritzker Laureates' Conversation Live Today (6:30pm ET)

10:30 - 5 April, 2016

Tonight, the "Pritzker Laureates' Conversation"—titled Challenges Ahead for the Built Environment—will be broadcast live at 6.30pm ET. It will provide a rare opportunity to hear 2016 Pritzker Laureate Alejandro Aravena in conversation with previous Pritzker Prize Laureates, including Richard Meier, Glenn Murcutt, Jean Nouvel, Renzo PianoChristian de Portzamparc, Richard Rogers, and Wang Shu. The conversation will be moderated by Cathleen McGuigan.

Watch the Pritzker Prize Award Ceremony Honoring Alejandro Aravena Live Today (7.30pm ET)

10:00 - 4 April, 2016

Tonight the Pritzker Prize will hold its annual award ceremony, this year honoring the work of 2016 Laureate Alejandro Aravena, who is also directing this year's Venice Architecture Biennale. The ceremony is being broadcast from the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. Make sure to catch the event live right here, tonight at 7.30pm Eastern Time (4.30pm PDT, 12.30am GMT, 1.30 am CET, 7.30am HKT).

2016 Venice Biennale Will Begin a "Crusade Against Indifference"

14:15 - 3 March, 2016

Yesterday, and for the first time in La Biennale's history, the press tour included a stop in the Southern Hemisphere. From his home city of Santiago, Alejandro Aravena shared more details about the upcoming exhibition in Chile's presidential palace (La Moneda) alongside the president of the Biennale and the president of Chile. 

The main information to emerge from the press conference was the presentation of the lone image that represents this year's Biennale and the announcement of the participants. In the video above, Aravena gracefully explains how Bruce Chatwin's image of German archaeologist Maria Reiche encapsulates "the Biennale as a whole." 

Aravena stressed that he wanted the disclaimer for the exhibition to be the exact opposite of "Don't Try This At Home." He explained, "Given the complexity and variety of challenges that architecture has to respond to, 'Reporting from the Front' will be about listening to those that were able to gain some perspective and consequently are in the position to share some knowledge and experiences with those of us standing on the ground."

Live Streaming from Santiago: Alejandro Aravena Speaks at the 2016 Venice Biennale Press Conference

10:03 - 2 March, 2016

Today at 10am EST, the press conference for the 2016 Venice Biennale will take place at Chile’s Presidential Palace La Moneda. During the conference Alejandro Aravena will present “Reporting from the Front,” his central exhibition for the Biennale. 

You can watch a live streaming of the press conference above. 

The press conference will be in Spanish.

Alejandro Aravena Reveals More Details About the 2016 Venice Biennale, "Reporting From the Front"

08:20 - 22 February, 2016
Alejandro Aravena Reveals More Details About the 2016 Venice Biennale, "Reporting From the Front", Courtesy of La Biennale
Courtesy of La Biennale

The 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, directed this year by Alejandro Aravena, have revealed more information about the central exhibition and associated projects which will be on display at a press conference today in Venice. According to La Biennale, 'Reporting from the Front' will form one single show spanning the venues of the Arsenale and the Central Pavilion in the Giardini, featuring work from 88 participants from 37 countries. Of these, 50 will be presenting work for the first time and 33 are architects under the age of 40. "Reporting from the Front" will share work from Architects tackling issues relating to segregation, inequality, suburbia, sanitation, natural disasters, the housing shortage, migration, crime, traffic , waste, pollution, and community participation.

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

AD Round-Up: The Best of Contemporary Chilean Architecture

06:00 - 22 January, 2016
AD Round-Up: The Best of Contemporary Chilean Architecture, Innovation Center UC / Elemental. Image © Nico Saieh
Innovation Center UC / Elemental. Image © Nico Saieh

Chilean architecture, having long stood in the shadow of more established design traditions in Europe and North America, has been catapulted to the forefront of global attention with the news that architect Alejandro Aravena has been named the 41st Pritzker Prize Laureate – the first Chilean to receive the award. He is also the director of this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale, which focuses on the role of architects in improving the living conditions of people across the globe, especially in cases where scarce resources and the “inertia of reality” stand in the way of progress.

2016 Pritzker Prize Winner Alejandro Aravena's Work in 15 Images

14:00 - 20 January, 2016
2016 Pritzker Prize Winner Alejandro Aravena's Work in 15 Images, © Cristobal Palma / Estudio Palma
© Cristobal Palma / Estudio Palma

Alejandro Aravena is the first Chilean architect to ever receive a Pritzker Prize. Praised for reviving the socially engaged architect, the 48-year-old architect and executive director of ELEMENTAL has proved architecture's ability to solve pressing global issues through his diverse portfolio. Read on to see 15 projects that exemplify Aravena's contribution to architecture so far. 

Three Years in Villa Verde, ELEMENTAL’s Incremental Housing Project in Constitución, Chile

14:00 - 18 January, 2016

Where were you when it happened? On February 27, 2010 an 8.8-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck Chile, causing destruction across the country. Ask any Chilean what they were doing at the time, and they will have a story to tell.

Oriana Pinochet Villagra and her family were in Constitución when the ground started to shake. A town centered around the forestry industry, Constitución is surrounded by green mountains, and situated where the Maule river meets the Pacific Ocean.

It was one of the cities most affected by the earthquake in 2010. The ocean water flooded the river, wrecking everything that the earthquake hadn’t already destroyed. Those that lived along the riverbank were left in the street with mud burying their houses -- Oriana's family lost 30 years of memories.

Almost six years after the natural disaster, we visited Constitución where Oriana Pinochet showed us one of the major reconstruction projects in the city: Villa Verde Housing, a residential neighborhood for 484 of the affected families. With partial financing from housing subsidies and based on the idea of incremental housing, the project is designed by ELEMENTAL, the “Do Tank” of 2016 Pritzker Prize laureate, Alejandro Aravena

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

Alejandro Aravena on a "Time of Shifting Paradigms"

04:00 - 27 November, 2015
Alejandro Aravena on a "Time of Shifting Paradigms", © ELEMENTAL
© ELEMENTAL

Writing for Guardian Cities Alejandro Aravena, director of the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, discusses what he perceives as the social reality of contemporary architects, the power of design in mobilising people to act, and "how architecture can introduce a broader notion of gain" in the face of ever greedier and evermore powerful development companies the world over. 

Any attempt to go beyond business as usual encounters huge resistance in the inertia of reality. Any effort to tackle relevant issues has to overcome the increasing complexity of the world. [...] It's time to rethink the entire role and language of architecture.

Aravena's Venice Biennale Theme Offers Hope for the Future of the Profession

09:30 - 2 September, 2015
Aravena's Venice Biennale Theme Offers Hope for the Future of the Profession, Courtesy of la Biennale di Venezia
Courtesy of la Biennale di Venezia

On Monday, the Venice Biennale announced the theme of their 2016 event, to be directed by Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena. The provocative title chosen by Aravena is "Reporting From the Front," a title loaded with implications of a battle against what he refers to as the "inertia of reality."

"More and more people in the planet are in search for a decent place to live and the conditions to achieve it are becoming tougher and tougher by the hour," explains his curatorial statement. "But unlike military wars where nobody wins and there is a prevailing sense of defeat, on the frontlines of the built environment, there is a sense of vitality because architecture is about looking at reality in a proposal key."

Aravena will have big shoes to fill. The previous Biennale, Rem Koolhaas' 2014 event, was extremely successful and highly praised by many critics. It was also widely regarded as the most anticipated event in the Biennale's history, after the Biennale had courted Koolhaas for years. But if Koolhaas' Biennale was the event that people looked forward to, I believe - or rather I hope - that Aravena's Biennale will be the one that people look back on in decades to come.

Venice Biennale Announces Theme for 2016 Event: "Reporting From the Front"

08:50 - 31 August, 2015
Venice Biennale Announces Theme for 2016 Event: "Reporting From the Front", Alejandro Aravena. Image Courtesy of la Biennale di Venezia
Alejandro Aravena. Image Courtesy of la Biennale di Venezia

The Venice Biennale has announced the theme selected by 2016 Biennale director Alejandro Aravena. Titled "Reporting From the Front," next year's Biennale will be an investigation into the role of architects in the battle to improve the living conditions for people all over the world. The theme aims to focus on architecture which works within the constraints presented by a lack of resources, and those designs which subvert the status quo to produce architecture for the common good - no matter how small the success.

Alejandro Aravena Appointed Director of the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale

08:45 - 18 July, 2015
Alejandro Aravena Appointed Director of the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale , Alejandro Aravena. Image © Cristóbal Palma, Courtesy of la Biennale di Venezia
Alejandro Aravena. Image © Cristóbal Palma, Courtesy of la Biennale di Venezia

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.”