In a new video released by Louisiana Channel, Pritzker Prize winner Alejandro Aravena shares his advice to young architects. The acclaimed Chilean architect directs those just starting out to be as nerdy, free, and rebellious as possible. By absorbing and understanding as much as you can and then using that knowledge to approach a project with freedom from convention or imagined constraints, Aravena states that it’s a cycle that continually feeds itself. Listening, and particularly listening with an open mind and without preconceptions, is Aravena’s second major piece of advice. “We are not consultants, we are authors...That means to take the risk of doing proposals,” Aravena continues, describing the practice of architecture.
Prior to winning the Pritzer Prize in 2016, Aravena founded Elemental, a socially conscious architecture practice, in 2001. Much of Elemental’s work is public interest design, for which they’ve gained international recognition and awards. From 2009-2015, Aravena served on the Pritzker Architecture Prize Jury and in 2016 he was also the director and curator of the Architecture section of the Venice Biennale.
Aravena and Elemental became well-known for their social housing work in Chile, particularly with their concept of “incremental housing” where Elemental designs “half a good house” within the restrictive budget and the families then save up to improve their unit over time. Aravena is known for involving the public in the design process and focusing on finding the right question before developing a solution.