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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.”

MARK Magazine #53

MARK #53  surveys American low-income housing from coast to coast. Michael Webb provides the historical and cultural context for some recent success stories in affordable development and presents three buildings in California designed by Kevin Daly Architects, OJK Architects and Planners, and Rob Wellington Quigley.

Larger low-income developments in New York and Los Angeles, by David Adjaye and Michael Maltzan respectively, speak to overcoming the challenge of aesthetic innovation on a tight budget. In the southern and western states, we find the Rural Studio at Auburn University and Design Build Bluff at the Universities of Utah and Colorado tackling the low-income housing issue outside the city, realizing rural homes for less than €20,000 each.

Then, it’s time for dinner and a show. Tour MVRDV’s mixed-use Markthal, a food paradise for casual grazers and sit-down diners alike, before talking with Jan Versweyveld, who designed the scenography for a stage adaptation of The Fountainhead.

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.

Elemental, Arup, and Studio Tamassociati Win Zumtobel Awards for Innovation

Courtesy of Massimo Grimaldi and Emergency ngo
Courtesy of Massimo Grimaldi and Emergency ngo

Jury chairman Winy Maas has announced three projects by Arup, Studio Tamassociati and Elemental as winners of the 2014 Zumtobel Group Awards. With a goal to promote innovations for sustainability and humanity in the built environment, the awards represent three categories: Applied Innovations, Buildings and Urban Developments & Initiatives. This year’s winners were selected from 15 nominees, shortlisted from a competitive pool of 356 submissions. 

The winning projects are marked by their innovative and ground-breaking character: “The voting to find the number one project was very close in all three categories, because in each case we were able to choose from among a large number of heterogeneous projects of high quality," Described Maas. "One key criterion for the jury this year was the innovation factor, both in a technical sense and with a view to planning and participation processes as well as ecological and social challenges.”

See the winning projects, after the break.

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.  

MCHAP Shortlists the 36 Most “Outstanding Projects” in the Americas

Wiel Arets, Dean of the College of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and Dirk Denison, Director of the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP), have announced the inaugural MCHAP shortlist – 36 “Outstanding Projects” selected from the 225 MCHAP nominees.

“The rich diversity of these built works is a testament to the creative energy at work in the Americas today,” said Arets. “When viewed alongside the innovative work by the MCHAP.emerge finalists and winner, Poli House by Mauricio Pezo and Sofia von Ellrichshausen which we honored in May, we see the evolution of a distinctly American conversation about creating livable space.” See all 36 winners 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

ELEMENTAL Proposes Pedestrian Path To Connect Districts of Santiago

ELEMENTAL has given us details on a proposed 14.5 km pedestrian and bike path within Santiago, Chile that will run along the base of San Cristobal Hill and connect the city's many distinct communities. According to ELEMENTAL, the proposal - named "Metropolitan Promenade" - seeks to facilitate the use and quality of the city's public spaces.

The total project will cost about $16 million USD and will be constructed in two stages. The first is expected for March 2015 and will deal with 7.2 kilometers in the western sector of the park. The second stage, which should be ready in September 2015, will complete the following 7.3 kilometers in the eastern sector of the park.

Read the full architect's description, after the break.

Courtesy of ELEMENTAL Courtesy of ELEMENTAL Courtesy of ELEMENTAL © Guy Wenborne. Image Courtesy of ELEMENTAL

Common Sense in Sustainable Architecture

There are very few sceptics who would question the importance of increasing sustainability in architecture. The enhanced social value through better living conditions, physical value in a healthier and less-polluted environment, long-term monetary value via reduced operating and maintenance costs, and ethical value through fairness to future generations are self-evident.

But despite this agreement, the inertia of decision makers in finance and politics who are preoccupied with short-term cycles has slowed the pace of change, and distracts architects and engineers from focussing upon ways to integrate greater sustainable performance into their designs and projects.

ELEMENTAL's "Half-Finished" Housing Typology: A Success in All Circumstances

Since they first developed the typology for their Quinta Monroy project in Iquique, Chile, the "half-finished home" has become something of a signature for ELEMENTAL: they have used the technique in multiple cities in Chile, as well as their Monterrey Housing project in Mexico. The typology began life as a way of dealing with extremely low budgets, allowing governments to provide housing to citizens at incredibly low prices, but nevertheless creating homes that would provide for the needs of residents and even gain value over time. Now, they have applied the theory to their Villa Verde Housing project, published just last week on ArchDaily.

Read more about the typology, and how it has been applied at Villa Verde, after the break...

ELEMENTAL: Incremental Housing and Participatory Design Manual

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.

Venice Biennale 2012: The Magnet and the Bomb / ELEMENTAL

© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

An installation highly commented by the visitors of the Vernissage of the Biennale. The Magnet and the Bomb presents two projects from the Chile based practice Elemental, lead by Alejandro Aravena. These projects are urban interventions that were required for specific social issues, that have required a common ground between several stakeholders. A ticking clock bomb counts down at the entrance of the exhibit, that will last the 100 days fo the Biennale, around the same time that both these projects took. The projects are presented over big walls of unfinished wood, with projections over them. Each project timeline appear on a wall, carved in the case of Constitución (view the PRES Constitución project), and as a series of cards inserted into slots for Calama (view the Calama Plus project).

© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

Chile is facing a big challenge, as the income has tripled in less than a decade, yet inequalities have remained intact. This is creating popular discontent that is accumulating pressure like a social time bomb. Equally, in order to maintain growth and remain competitive at a global level, the country must attract and retain knowledge creators. Presented here are the projects where architects were required to respond to these profound dilemmas.

Ruta del Peregrino Phase II Completed

Sneak Peek © Iwan Baan
Sneak Peek © Iwan Baan

Looking back at the Easter Pilgrimage 2011 at Ruta del Peregrino, the most important event of the year, we are pleased to announce the final step of the second construction phase (you can check the complete project over here). This year, for the first time, the pilgrims were able to use the finished viewpoint by HHF Architects, offering a new way to experience the site. The sanctuary by Tatiana Bilbao and the viewpoint by Christ&Gantenbein are under construction; their presence will mark the completion of the entire Ruta within a few months. All images by Iwan Baan and you can check his website for the full coverage.

ELEMENTAL wins Brit Insurance Design Award

ELEMENTAL’s Monterrey housing development has won the architecture category in the 2010 Brit Insurance Design Awards.