“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.
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.
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.
In this ArchDaily exclusive video, ELEMENTAL‘s director Alejandro Aravena explains the concepts that shaped the form and delineated the design process of the Pontifical Catholic University’s Innovation Center UC – Anacelto Angelini. Instead of using materials that are usually associated with technology and innovation, such as glass and steel, Aravena uses concrete and its hermetic, weighty properties to imbue the center with an air of timelessness and transcendence.
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 SANAA, Sou Fujimoto, Kengo Kuma, Alejandro Aravena and Atelier Bow Wow, after the break.
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 win. Aravena 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’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.
During the last few years the world has witnessed dramatic changes. Our world is no longer rural, economic models are struggling, and the centres of innovation and political power have shifted.
It is this context that explains why the recently held competition for the new Tehran Stock Exchange is relevant beyond the building. The Physical Development Research Center organized a competition between 29 top architecture firms, later narrowed down to eight after a RFQ process, who each worked with a local Iranian firm. In a country experiencing a very unique economic moment, the brief of the competition aimed to challenge the typology of the stock exchange in general, as well as factors that could alter this type to address cultural factors specific to its location. Thus, the firms were asked to look at how this program has developed throughout history while also undertaking a thorough analysis of the specifities of this project.
Alejandro Aravena (founder of Alejandro Aravena
Aravena’s entry stood out from the rest as it was conceptually distinct, aligned with the brief of the competition. Other highlights of this entry are its geometry, structural base, sensitivity to climate, and relation to its mountainous landscape, which are explained further in the architect’s description below:
A monolithic figure at a first glance, the building achieves a particular transparency thanks to the hollow blocks used on its skin, turning into a lamp that is transparent to the public.
The decision of the jury, while unanimous, is only a recommendation to the client, so we will keep you informed as the project moves forward.
Read the complete architect’s description, with renders and drawings, after the break:
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.
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.
For this week the Architecture City Guide series headed to the city of Austin, Texas. Already our third stop in the Lone State, it is easy to see why Texans take such pride in their state, even when the Cowboys go 6 and 10. Both the capital of Texas and Live Music, Austin is a vibrant city that takes pride in being far from ordinary. Austin also plays host to South By Southwest (SXSW) which is being held this week, March 11th – 20th. Its eclectic and liberal lifestyle have led many Austinites to adopt the slogan “Keep Austin Weird.” In this context its architecture is as diverse as its people. This short exposé of a few contemporary and modern buildings hardly tells the story of Austin, so we ask you, the readers, to add to the list. Please share your favorites with us in the comment section below.
The Architecture City Guide: Austin list and corresponding map after the break!
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.
Architects: Alejandro Aravena, Ricardo Torrejón
Partner Architects in Texas: Cotera + Reed
Texas Team: Tiffani Erdmanczyk, Adam Pyrek, Travis Hughbanks, Leyla Shams, Joyce Chen
Chilean Team: Víctor Oddó, Rebecca Emmons
Built Area: 30.000 m2 (10.000 m2 dorms + 20.000 m2 parking)
Photography: Cristobal Palma
Architects: Alejandro Aravena
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
Project team: Alejandro Aravena + Ricardo Torrejón + Víctor Oddó
Partner Architects in Germany: Osolin Plüss
Models: Ricardo Torrejón
Built Area: 600 sqm
Renders: Víctor Oddó
Also, Alejandro Aravena shared with us the Sketchup model that you can download here
Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena has been chosen as the 2009 recipient of the Marcus Prize for Architecture. The Marcus Prize for Architecture is a $100,000 prize funded by the Marcus Corporation Foundation and administered through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning to recognize emerging talent in architecture worldwide.
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.
Arevena’s firm, ELEMENTAL, a self-described “Do-Tank,” is affiliated with COPEC, a Chilean oil company and the Universidad Católica de Chile. The affiliation has a social/political agenda and considers architecture a source for building social equity. His work includes the Mathematics Faculty, the Medical Faculty, the Siamese Tower and the Architecture School for the Universidad Católica, dorm facilities for St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, new children workshops and training facilities for Vitra in Weil am Rhein, Germany. From 2000-2005, Aravena was Visiting Professor at Harvard GSD.
The challenge to provide affordable housing is a global issue. At a time when market forces are eclipsing architecture’s social value, ELEMENTAL’s pioneering housing is transforming urban communities in Latin America.
Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena is a Professor at the Universidad Católica de Chile and Executive Director of ELEMENTAL, a ‘do tank’ addressing questions outside the traditional realm of architecture.
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).
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For more information, click here. All the lectures after the break.