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Alejandro Aravena: The Latest Architecture and News

Is There a Future for Open Source Architecture?

In 2016, Pritzker Prize winner Alejandro Aravena announced that his firm, ELEMENTAL, had released the rights to four of their social housing projects, and all documents would be uploaded to their website for public use. Aravena’s goal was to start a movement in which architects would work together to tackle the world’s challenges around housing shortages and affordability, especially with increased migration. The shared drawing sets and a description of the project’s principles provide architects with the necessary documentation for building a low-cost home, encouraging designers to do the same with their work, contractors to assist in building these homes, and governments to shift their thinking of how they can approach mass urbanization. Six years later, how has the concept of open-source architecture progressed, and how has it impacted the architectural profession ever since?

The Commons: Dissecting Open-Source Design

In New Mexico, irrigation channels that have been in continuous operation for three centuries replenish and nourish the wetlands of the American Southwest. These channels are known as Acequias – communally managed water systems built on democratic tradition. Members of the community own water rights, who then elect a three-person team to oversee the channels. In Cairo and Barcelona, Tahrir Square and Plaza de Catalunya have acted as important sites for voicing political dissatisfaction. The Tahrir Square protests of 2011, for instance, resulted in the eventual toppling of an almost 30-year-old government.

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OMA, Herzog & de Meuron, and ELEMENTAL to Design Three New Museums in Qatar

Following Qatar's ambitious museum-building project to further promote cultural institutes in the country, Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums has announced that OMA, Herzog & de Meuron, and ELEMENTAL will be designing three new museums in Doha that explore the themes of Islamic art, contemporary art, and evolution of the automobile industry respectively.

OMA, Herzog & de Meuron, and ELEMENTAL to Design Three New Museums in QatarOMA, Herzog & de Meuron, and ELEMENTAL to Design Three New Museums in QatarOMA, Herzog & de Meuron, and ELEMENTAL to Design Three New Museums in QatarOMA, Herzog & de Meuron, and ELEMENTAL to Design Three New Museums in Qatar+ 5

Who Has Won the Pritzker Prize?

The Pritzker Prize is the most important award in the field of architecture, awarded to a living architect whose built work "has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity through the art of architecture." The Prize rewards individuals, not entire offices, as took place in 2000 (when the jury selected Rem Koolhaas instead of his firm OMA) or in 2016 (with Alejandro Aravena selected instead of Elemental); however, the prize can also be awarded to multiple individuals working together, as took place in 2001 (Herzog & de Meuron), 2010 (Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA), and 2017 (Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramon Vilalta of RCR Arquitectes).

The Pritzker Architecture Prize Releases Ceremony Video Honouring the 2021 Laureates Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal

Courtesy of Laurent Chalet. ImageAnne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassa
Courtesy of Laurent Chalet. ImageAnne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassa

The Pritzker Architecture Prize released a special ceremony video honouring the 2021 laureates Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal. Previously held in person, each time at a different architecturally significant venue around the world, this year’s ceremony is the second pre-filmed event in the history of the Prize, following the one in 2020. The ceremony features filmed remarks from various speakers, among which are several jury members, Jury Chair Alejandro Aravena, the 2020 Prize recipients Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell, as well as this year’s Laureates themselves. The video also pays tribute to the achievements of Lacaton and Vassal through footage of their built work.

The Pritzker Architecture Prize Releases Ceremony Video Honouring the 2021 Laureates Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe VassalThe Pritzker Architecture Prize Releases Ceremony Video Honouring the 2021 Laureates Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe VassalThe Pritzker Architecture Prize Releases Ceremony Video Honouring the 2021 Laureates Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe VassalThe Pritzker Architecture Prize Releases Ceremony Video Honouring the 2021 Laureates Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal+ 7

9 On-Site Interviews with 2021 Venice Biennale Curators

After being postponed for one year, the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale opened its doors to the public on May 22nd, 2021, revealing a wide range of answers to Hashim Sarkis’ question of "How will we live together". With over 112 participants from 46 countries, the contributions are organized into five themes: Among Diverse Beings, As New Households, As Emerging Communities, Across Borders, and As One Planet. Due to travel restrictions, many curators were unable to be physically present at the inauguration of the event, resorting to digital platforms for interviews and presentations. ArchDaily had the chance to physically attend the exhibition and meet with some of the curators to further explore their pavilions. The following are 9 interviews from ArchDaily’s Youtube playlists that feature these exclusive interviews.

"We are Not the Protagonists, Architecture is Just the Background": In Conversation with Alejandro Aravena

The 17th Venice Architecture Biennale invited architects to ponder the question “How will we live together”, eliciting a variety of answers, readings and interpretations. The International Exhibition unfolding in Giardini, the Arsenale and Forte Maghera presents 112 participants in the competition, coming from 46 countries, whose contributions are organized into five scales: Among Diverse Beings, As New Households, As Emerging Communities, Across Borders, and As One Planet. Answering “How will we live together as a community? “ is Chilean office ELEMENTAL and Archdaily met in Venice with Alejandro Aravena to discuss the idea behind the project KOYAÜWE, which creates a space that recovers the tradition of parleys, as a means to address the historical Chilean-Mapuche conflict.

We are Not the Protagonists, Architecture is Just the Background: In Conversation with Alejandro AravenaWe are Not the Protagonists, Architecture is Just the Background: In Conversation with Alejandro AravenaWe are Not the Protagonists, Architecture is Just the Background: In Conversation with Alejandro AravenaWe are Not the Protagonists, Architecture is Just the Background: In Conversation with Alejandro Aravena+ 8

Architecture in the United States Designed by Latin American Architects

Rafael Viñoly / Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Image © Groupe Canam [Wikimedia] Bajo licencia CC BY-SA 3.0
Rafael Viñoly / Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Image © Groupe Canam [Wikimedia] Bajo licencia CC BY-SA 3.0

Globalization and its pension for both virtual and physical connectivity has led to the linking of the world's economies, territories, and cultures and nowhere is this more evident than in the field of architecture.

Selected Projects of Pritzker Laureates’ in 2020

This year, architecture’s highest honor, the Pritzker Prize, has been granted to Grafton Architects, a Dublin-based architectural firm mainly ran by female partners Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara. For the first time ever in its 42-year history, due to the constraints set by Covid-19 global pandemic, the organizers of the Pritzker Prize decided to use Livestream the award ceremony. Having reached the end of 2020, ArchDaily has summed up what current and previous Pritzker Prize winners have accomplished during this turbulent year.

Louis Kahn's Dormitories for the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad Saved from Demolition

As reported in The Times of India, the board of governors for the Indian Institute of Management, in Ahmedabad, India has canceled the proposal to demolish Louis Kahn’s buildings on campus and replacing them with new structures, after a worldwide pushback from the international architecture community.

ELEMENTAL Tackles the Mapuche-Chilean Conflict at the Venice Architectural Biennale 2021

ELEMENTAL presents a sneak peek of its contribution to "How will we live together?" at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021. Recently, violence has increased in the historical Mapuche-Chilean conflict, that is why the architectural office proposed to build places that recover the old tradition of parleys, spaces to meet in order to settle differences and discuss terms for an armistice.

Alejandro Aravena Named as Chair of the Pritzker Architecture Prize Jury

The Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest honor, has just announced the appointment of Alejandro Aravena as Chair of the Pritzker Architecture Prize Jury as of March 2021, in time for the award’s 43rd year. Moreover, the announcement also designated Manuela Lucá-Dazio, the Executive Director of the Department of Visual Arts and Architecture of La Biennale di Venezia, as an advisor to the Prize and the next Executive Director.

Spotlight: Alejandro Aravena

Innovation Center UC - Anacleto Angelini. Image © Nico Saieh
Innovation Center UC - Anacleto Angelini. Image © Nico Saieh

As founder of the “Do Tank” firm ELEMENTAL, Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena (born on June 22, 1967) is perhaps the most socially-engaged architect to receive the Pritzker Prize. Far from the usual aesthetically driven approach, Aravena explains that “We don’t think of ourselves as artists. Architects like to build things that are unique. But if something is unique it can’t be repeated, so in terms of it serving many people in many places, the value is close to zero.” [1] For Aravena, the architect’s primary goal is to improve people's way of life by assessing both social needs and human desires, as well as political, economic and environmental issues.

Alejandro Aravena Shares the Foundational Philosophies at the Core of His Socially Conscious Practice

Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena shares the fundamentals of his design philosophy in a documented interview titled “To Design is to Prefer.” The Pritzker Prize winner founded his practice in 2001, committed to exploring socially conscious design practices. His firm, Elemental, first gained international recognition for its work creating social housing projects in Chile, but its portfolio continues to expand to include work from museums, universities, transportation, and urban infrastructure.

This video highlights the mental process behind Aravena’s personal practices and insights into Elemental’s unique approach to design. The interview begins discussing Aravena’s introduction to architecture as a teen and how architecture, a rather obscure phenomenon to the young Aravena, became his passion. Throughout the film, Aravena flips to the pages of his sketchbooks, illustrating the raw hand of the architect.