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Alejandro Aravena: The Latest Architecture and News

ELEMENTAL Selected to Design One of Qatar's Largest Cultural Centers – Doha's "Art Mill"

ELEMENTAL, led by Pritzker Prize laureate Alejandro Aravena, has been selected as the design team for the Art Mill project in Doha, Qatar. Following a 26-strong longlist and a shortlist of eight internationally renowned practices, including Atelier Bow-Wow and the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, the Chilean practice have been lauded by the jury for developing "a serene artwork, [in which] the structure is the architecture." Once complete, the project will join two other nearby cultural heavyweights: the Museum of Islamic Art, designed by I.M. Pei, and the National Museum of Qatar designed by Jean Nouvel.

Alejandro Aravena Wins 2017 Gothenburg Prize for Sustainable Development

2016 Pritzker Prize winner Alejandro Aravena has been selected as the 2017 recipient of the Gothenburg Prize for Sustainable Development, an international award that recognizes an individual or group for “outstanding performance and achievements towards a sustainable future. Given annually since 2005, the prize has previously been awarded to environmentalists, scientists, engineers and political advocates – Aravena is the first architect to receive the honor.

Projects by Alejandro Aravena and Carrilho da Graça Announced in Lisbon

Público published a report today that Chilean architect and 2016 Pritzker Prize Laureate Alejandro Aravena has been invited to design a project for the EDP (Energias de Portugal), complementing the Aires Mateus-designed Sede da EDP (EDP Headquarters) in Lisbon.

At the end of 2016 Portuguese architect João Luis Carrilho da Graça was invited to design a hotel to support the EDP's new facilities and refurbishment of its existing spaces. Carrilho da Graça is also responsible for the urban plan of the area in which the projects will be developed and built--the Zona da Boavista Nascente, between Santos and the Cais do Sodré

New York Times Names Alejandro Aravena Among 28 "Creative Geniuses" of 2016

Chilean architect Alejandro has been selected as one of "28 creative geniuses who defined culture in 2016" by the New York Times, in a list that includes personalities such as First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, singer Lady Gaga, photographer William Eggleston and designer Junya Watanabe.

Aravena achieved spectacular success this year, being awarded the Pritzker Prize in January and acting as director of the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale which opened in May. Through his work, he directed a discussion about the role of architects and their impact on society.

Reporting from the Front: 6 Months in 5 Minutes

This week the 2016 Venice Architecture BiennaleReporting From the Front—will close. Six months have passed and hundreds of thousands of architects, urbanists, designers and tourists have perused both the National Participations (of which more were represented this year than ever before) and the central exhibition curated by Alejandro Aravena – the first South American to direct the most prestigious event on the architectural calendar. ArchDaily has compiled our most extensive coverage of the event and, as the 15th incarnation of Biennale shuts its gates for the last time, our collection of articles, interviews and publication excerpts remains permanently accessible.

11 Stunning Axonometric Drawings of Iconic Chilean Architecture

As the birthplace of our most recent Pritzker Prize winner, Alejandro Aravena, Santiago, Chile is full of iconic architecture. Because many of these buildings are situated in busy urban areas, their superior design is easy to miss. In an effort to encourage viewers to slow down and appreciate the volume, facades, context, and function of these urban landmarks, Benjamin Oportot and Alexandra Gray of San Sebastian University guided their 4th-year students in producing axonometric drawings of 11 buildings. The project centered on medium-sized office buildings built between 1989 and 2015, particularly focusing on their use of reinforced concrete.

Reporting From The Front: Sustainability vs. Security

Based on his experience in curating the 15th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia 2016 in Venice, the Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena inspired the LafargeHolcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction to organize a debate on sustainability and security. Framed as one of this year Architecture Biennale’s discussions, the event will foreground topics that were raised in the context of the exhibition “Reporting from the Front” and expose them to “real life reports” from the forefront of architecture and related disciplines.

Growing security concerns, specifically pertaining to the world supply chain and global flows of construction materials as well as the

Half A House Builds A Whole Community: Elemental’s Controversial Social Housing

In Chile, a middle-class family may inhabit a house of around 80 square meters, whereas a low-income family might be lucky enough to inhabit 40 square meters. They can’t afford a large “good” house, and are henceforth often left with smaller homes or building blocks; but why not give them half a “good” house, instead of a finished small house? In the 1970s a professor by the name John F.C. Turner, teaching at a new masters program at MIT called “Urban Settlement Design In Developing Countries”, developed an idea surrounding the concept that people can build for themselves. 99% Invisible has covered a story, produced by Sam Greenspan, on how this idea has evolved, and what it has turned into: Half A House.

Villa Verde expansion under construction. Image via 99 Percent Invisible Quinta Monroy project in Iquique, Chile by Elemental. Image via 99 Percent Invisible Villa Verde build-out in progress. Image via 99 Percent Invisible Dronve view of Villa Verde in Constitución, Chile by Elemental. Image via 99 Percent Invisible + 5

Google and La Biennale di Venezia Release Online Catalogue of 3700 Images from the 2016 Venice Biennale

Courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia
Courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

Google and La Biennale di Venezia have teamed up to release an online catalogue of the 2016 Venice Biennale. Hosted on Google’s Arts and Culture platform, the digital archive contains over 3700 images and videos from the 15th International Architecture Exhibition “Reporting From The Front”, curated by Alejandro Aravena, and a selection of National Pavilions and ancillary events.

5 Initiatives That Show the Rise of Open Source Architecture

In architecture, perhaps the most remarkable change heralded by the 20th was the radical rethinking of housing provision which it brought, driven by a worldwide population explosion and the devastation of two world wars. Of course, Modernism’s reappraisal of the design and construction of housing was one part of this trajectory, but still Modernism was underpinned by a traditional process, needing clients, designers and contractors. Arguably more radical were a small number of fringe developments, such as mail-order houses in the US and Walter Segal’s DIY home designs in the UK. These initiatives sought to turn the traditional construction process on its head, empowering people to construct their own homes by providing materials and designs as cheaply as possible.

In the 21st century, the spirit of these fringe movements is alive and well, but the parameters have changed somewhat: with a rise in individualism, and new technologies sparking the “maker movement,” the focus has shifted away from providing people with the materials to construct a fixed design, and towards improving access to intellectual property, allowing more people to take advantage of cheap and effective designs. The past decade has seen a number of initiatives aimed at spreading open source architectural design--read on to find out about five of them.

Bart Lootsma Dissects, Unpicks and Evaluates the 2016 Venice Biennale

In two lectures delivered by Bart Lootsma, Professor and Head of Institute for Architectural Theory and History at the University of Innsbruck, the 2016 Venice Biennale—Reporting From the Front—is dissected, unpicked and evaluated through the national participations (pavilions) and Alejandro Aravena's central exhibitions. Lootsma, who has broadcast the lectures as publicly available resources on architecturaltheory.eu, is the co-curator of the 2016 Pavilion of Montenegro.

Surface Magazine Examines Alejandro Aravena's "Architecture of Improvement"

It’s the Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena’s habit to look at architecture as a way to help people, and not to simply dazzle them with form. The ethos and practice of Aravena’s Santiago-based firm, Elemental, is essentially the blueprint for each national pavilion at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale (through Nov. 27), which he is directing. His brief, “Reporting from the Front,” asks a simple question, one that’s increasingly difficult to address: How can the advancement of architecture, given physical needs and local contexts, actually improve the quality of people’s lives?

The question is central to how Aravena approaches his own work. Before he puts pen to paper, the economic, environmental, political, and social dimensions of the built environment are fully taken into account. 

Alejandro Aravena on Design, Venice and Why He Paused His Career to Open a Bar

In an exclusive half-hour interview with Alejandro Aravena, Monocle's Josh Fehnert questions the recent Pritzker Prize-laureate on Chilean architecture and urbanism, why he considers simple design as the key to alleviating the world's biggest woes, and the conception and ultimate result of his 15th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia

Critical Round-Up: Did Aravena's 2016 Venice Biennale Achieve its Lofty Goals?

The XV International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale opened its doors last month. Under the directorship of Chilean Pritzker Prize-winner Alejandro Aravena, “Reporting the front” asked architects to go beyond “business as usual” and investigate concealed built environments – conflict zones and urban slums, as well as locations suffering from housing shortage, migrations and environmental disasters. Clearly, the aim of this Biennale is to open the profession to new fields of engagement and share knowledge on how to improve people’s quality of life.

This stance that has been highly criticized by Patrik Schumacher, director of Zaha Hadid Architects, who believes that architects “are not equipped to [address these issues]. It’s not the best value for our expertise.” But is this a view shared by the rest of the design world and its critics? What are the limits and benefits of this “humanitarian architecture”? Read on to find out critics’ comments.

The "Reporting the Front" exhibition/ curated by Alejandro Aravena at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Image © Laurian GhinitoiuGabinete de Arquitectura at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Image © Laurian GhinitoiuNLÉ's Makoko Floating School at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu"OUR AMAZON FRONTLINE" / curated by Sandra Barclay and Jean Pierre Crousse. Peruvian Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu+ 6

EXTRA-ORDINARY: New Practices in Chilean Architecture

The Center for Architecture, in collaboration with CONSTRUCTO, will present the exhibition EXTRA-ORDINARY: New Practices in Chilean Architecture, opening on Wednesday, June 22 at 5:30 pm, curated by CONSTRUCTO foundersJeannette Plaut and Marcelo Sarovic. The opening will begin with a roundtable discussion between Plaut, Sarovic and MoMA Director Glenn Lowry and will be followed by a presentation by architect Smiljan Radic.

Aravena's "Reporting From The Front" Is Nothing Like Koolhaas' 2014 Biennale—But It's Equally as Good

As director of the 2016 Venice Biennale, Alejandro Aravena has sought to shift the very grounds of architecture. Rather than an inward-looking interrogation of the profession's shortcomings, as Rem Koolhaas undertook in 2014, the Chilean Pritzker Prize-winner asks us to gaze in the opposite direction—to the vast swathes of the built horizon that traditionally lay beyond the profession's purview: urban slums, denatured megacities, conflict zones, environmentally compromised ports, rural villages far off the grid.

"We believe that the advancement of architecture is not a goal in itself but a way to improve people’s quality of life," states Aravena in his introduction to event. In other words, his biennale does not ask what architecture ought, yet often fails, to be, but rather what it could, yet often forgets, to do.

The "Reporting From the Front" exhibition. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Gabinete de Arquitectura's contribution to the "Reporting From the Front" exhibition. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Vo Trong Nghia's contribution to the "Reporting From the Front" exhibition. Image © Francesco GalliThe Spanish Pavilion. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu + 14

From Chile to the World: Reporting From the Venice Biennale 2016

Grupo Talca. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu
Grupo Talca. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu

In early March, at the Presidential Palace in Chile, a never before seen event took place for Chilean architecture. Architects, government officials as well as the media gathered for the first Venice Biennale press conference to be held in Spanish.

As the first South American selected to curate the Biennale, Alejandro Aravena was excited as he delivered the latest news on “Reporting from the Front,” the XV International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale, which opened its doors to the public on May 28:

“The Biennale, the invited architects, as well as the curators, did not intend to do anything other than open a debate in which architecture can be used to improve quality of life through the sharing of knowledge. This debate holds more significance since we are speaking at the Presidential Palace because it conveys the message that these issues are important. Thank you so much for the opportunity and the chance to be here.”

The President’s presence at an event like this is a symbol that consolidates a chapter of progress and achievements in Chilean architecture. In the last two decades, Chilean architecture has positioned itself in the world as a force to be recognized, and Chilean architects are now obtaining international recognition, which would have been unimaginable a few years ago.

Architecture as a Means of Synthesis – Monocle Films Report from the 2016 Venice Biennale

"Scrutinizing the horizon and looking for a new perspective" is what Alejandro Aravena has encouraged in the 2016 Venice Biennale, Reporting From the Front. "[He] has staged one of the most socially charged Biennales," Gillian Dobias reports, by "exploring the different ways that design can add value." In this, the first of two film reportages from the Biennale, Monocle talks to Aravena about his hopes for stimulating the debate on improving quality of life in the built environment, and tour the Central Pavilion and the Arsenale to uncover what's on show.