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Alejandro Aravena: The Latest Architecture and News

First Look: "Reporting from the Front" Arsenale Exhibition

"Architecture is about giving form to the places where we live. It is not more complicated than that, but also not easier than that." - Alejandro Aravena

On the first day of the vernissage 15th International Architecture Exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia, ArchDaily is pleased to show you a preview of the exhibitions and installations that were hand selected by Alejandro Aravena and his firm Elemental. Separate from (but in dialogue with) the National Pavilions, "Reporting From the Front" celebrates work that "address[es] a problem that matters and for which quality architecture made a difference."

In an exhibition whose aim is to share the "success stories" where architecture is making a difference, Alejandro Aravena has convened offices and practitioners from across the globe to show—"in the simplest possible terms (without trivializing)"—projects that demonstrate innovation, resolve and quality problem-solving abilities.

© Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu + 44

Alejandro Aravena Is Profiled by Michael Kimmelman for T Magazine

On the eve of the Venice Biennale, The New York TimesMichael Kimmelman sits down with Alejandro Aravena in an intimate profile for T Magazine’s Beauty Issue. Visiting a number of projects by the architect and his office, Elemental, Kimmelman experiences socially minded architecture in an age of informal growth, income inequality, and mounting threats linked to climate change, all while learning about Aravena’s own path and growth as a practitioner. Although told by colleagues that he might be standoffish, Kimmelman finds Aravena to be “earnest, open, a little nerdy –– and deadly serious.”

Jury Members for the 2016 Venice Biennale Revealed

The Board of Directors of La Biennale di Venezia, upon recommendation from Alejandro Aravena, have announced the jury for the forthcoming Venice Biennale who will award the Golden Lion for Best National Participation, the Golden Lion for Best Participant in the International Exhibition Reporting From the Front, and the Silver Lion for a Promising Young Participant in the International Exhibition Reporting From the Front. They will also have the opportunity to award one special mention to National Participations and two special mentions to the participants in the International Exhibition.

Paulo Mendes da Rocha Awarded Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement

The Board of Directors of La Biennale di Venezia, upon recommendation from Alejandro Aravena, have announced the Brazilian Pritzker Prize-winning architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha as the recipient of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of the 15th International Architecture Exhibition, Reporting From the Front. Citing the "timelessness" of his work "both physically and stylistically" as "the most striking attribute of his architecture," the board have also stated that "this astonishing consistency may be the consequence of his ideological integrity and structural genius."

Why Aravena's Open Source Project is a Huge Step Toward Better, Cheaper Housing for Everyone

This article by Paperhouses founder Joana Pacheco was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Aravena's Small Step, Open Source's Big Leap."

When Alejandro Aravena was awarded the Pritzker Prize earlier this month, he made a remarkable and significant announcement: he had published the plans of four of his social housing projects on his website, for anyone and everyone to study and use.

Through the work of his firm Elemental, Aravena is known for his interest in incremental, participatory housing design: a common-sense way of working within financial restraints and a cornerstone of Elemental’s studio work. The motto—focus first on what is most difficult to achieve, what cannot be done individually, and what will guarantee the common good in the future—resulted in a “half a house.” First introduced over a decade ago, the model consists of an expandable 40 square-meter (431 square-feet) container with basic infrastructure (partitions, structural and firewalls, bathroom, kitchen, stairs, a roof) built-in and added to over time. It is not only an achievement from a conceptual and project management standpoint, but also an aesthetically open and diverse project. From this one idea stemmed 100 variations.

Alejandro Aravena's Pritzker Prize Acceptance Speech

Courtesy of ©The Hyatt Foundation / The Pritzker Architecture Prize
Courtesy of ©The Hyatt Foundation / The Pritzker Architecture Prize

ArchDaily is pleased to share, with the permission of The Hyatt Foundation and The Pritzker Architecture Prize, a transcript of Alejandro Aravena's acceptance speech at the April 4, 2016 award ceremony for the 2016 Pritzker Prize presented at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Brazil Announces Exhibition Theme for 2016 Venice Biennale

Responding to curator Alejandro Aravena's theme "Reporting from the front," the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo has selected Washington Fajardo to present an exhibition titled “JUNTOS.” The project for the Brazilian pavilion will highlight stories of people who have fought to achieve changes in institutional passivity in Brazil's big cities. They have created architecture within slow processes, bringing stable solutions in a politically tumultuous territory. According to the curator, “the exhibition is a composition of these pathways and partnerships, where activism meets architects and architecture, becoming a magnet in the preparation of a new space.”

ELEMENTAL Releases Plans of 4 Housing Projects for Open-Source Use

The 2016 Pritzker laureate Alejandro Aravena has announced that his firm, ELEMENTAL, has chosen to release four of their social housing designs to the public for open source use. Speaking in a panel discussion held by the Pritzker Prize earlier tonight titled Challenges Ahead for the Built Environment, Aravena stressed the need to work together to tackle the challenge of rapid migration that is taking place all around the globe, a message closely tied to the theme of the upcoming Venice Biennale which Aravena is directing. In this spirit, DWGs of these four designs - which offer the basic elements of a house at a low budget and encourage the residents to expand into an adjacent space as they find the money to do so - will be available for architects worldwide to learn from.

Watch the Pritzker Laureates' Conversation Live Today (6:30pm ET)

Tonight, the "Pritzker Laureates' Conversation"—titled Challenges Ahead for the Built Environment—will be broadcast live at 6.30pm ET. It will provide a rare opportunity to hear 2016 Pritzker Laureate Alejandro Aravena in conversation with previous Pritzker Prize Laureates, including Richard Meier, Glenn Murcutt, Jean Nouvel, Renzo Piano, Christian de Portzamparc, Richard Rogers, and Wang Shu. The conversation will be moderated by Cathleen McGuigan.

Watch the Pritzker Prize Award Ceremony Honoring Alejandro Aravena Live Today (7.30pm ET)

Tonight the Pritzker Prize will hold its annual award ceremony, this year honoring the work of 2016 Laureate Alejandro Aravena, who is also directing this year's Venice Architecture Biennale. The ceremony is being broadcast from the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. Make sure to catch the event live right here, tonight at 7.30pm Eastern Time (4.30pm PDT, 12.30am GMT, 1.30 am CET, 7.30am HKT).

2016 Venice Biennale Will Begin a "Crusade Against Indifference"

Yesterday, and for the first time in La Biennale's history, the press tour included a stop in the Southern Hemisphere. From his home city of Santiago, Alejandro Aravena shared more details about the upcoming exhibition in Chile's presidential palace (La Moneda) alongside the president of the Biennale and the president of Chile.

The main information to emerge from the press conference was the presentation of the lone image that represents this year's Biennale and the announcement of the participants. In the video above, Aravena gracefully explains how Bruce Chatwin's image of German archaeologist Maria Reiche encapsulates "the Biennale as a whole." 

Aravena stressed that he wanted the disclaimer for the exhibition to be the exact opposite of "Don't Try This At Home." He explained, "Given the complexity and variety of challenges that architecture has to respond to, 'Reporting from the Front' will be about listening to those that were able to gain some perspective and consequently are in the position to share some knowledge and experiences with those of us standing on the ground."

Live Streaming from Santiago: Alejandro Aravena Speaks at the 2016 Venice Biennale Press Conference

Today at 10am EST, the press conference for the 2016 Venice Biennale will take place at Chile’s Presidential Palace La Moneda. During the conference Alejandro Aravena will present “Reporting from the Front,” his central exhibition for the Biennale.

You can watch a live streaming of the press conference above.

Alejandro Aravena y Paolo Baratta. Image © Natalia Espina bajo licencia CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 / CNCA Conferencia de prensa sobre Bienal de Venecia 2016. Image © Natalia Espina bajo licencia CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 / CNCA Ernesto Ottone, Alejandro Aravena y Paolo Baratta. Image © Natalia Espina bajo licencia CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 / CNCA Michelle Bachelet, Alejandro Aravena y Paolo Baratta. Image © Natalia Espina bajo licencia CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 / CNCA + 5

Alejandro Aravena Reveals More Details About the 2016 Venice Biennale, "Reporting From the Front"

The 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, directed this year by Alejandro Aravena, have revealed more information about the central exhibition and associated projects which will be on display at a press conference today in Venice. According to La Biennale, 'Reporting from the Front' will form one single show spanning the venues of the Arsenale and the Central Pavilion in the Giardini, featuring work from 88 participants from 37 countries. Of these, 50 will be presenting work for the first time and 33 are architects under the age of 40. "Reporting from the Front" will share work from Architects tackling issues relating to segregation, inequality, suburbia, sanitation, natural disasters, the housing shortage, migration, crime, traffic , waste, pollution, and community participation.

It’s Elementary (Not): On the Architecture of Alejandro Aravena

Siamese Towers. Image © Cristobal Palma
Siamese Towers. Image © Cristobal Palma

When reading about the work of Alejandro Aravena, it can sometimes seem like two distinct discussions: one about his widely praised social housing innovations, and another about his impressive (albeit more conventional in scope) buildings for universities and municipalities. In this post originally shared on his Facebook page Hashim Sarkis, the Dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning, connects the two apparently separate threads of Aravena's architecture, discovering the underlying beliefs that guide this year's Pritzker Prize winner.

Much of the work of Alejandro Aravena, whether designed alone or with the group ELEMENTAL, embodies a eureka moment, a moment where after a careful interrogation of the program with the client, the architect comes up with a counterintuitive but simple response to the charge. (For the computer center at the Catholic University, the labs have to be both dark and well-lit. For the social housing in Iquique, instead of a full good house that you cannot afford, you get a half good house that you can). In turn, these simple equations are embodied in buildings that usually acquire similarly simple forms. The clients and occupants repeat the “aha” with Aravena’s same tone and realization. “If I cannot convincingly convey the design idea over the phone, then I know it is a bad idea,” he says.

Las Cruces Lookout Point. Image © Iwan Baan Design for Casa OchoQuebradas. Image Courtesy of ELEMENTAL Innovation Center UC - Anacleto Angelini. Image © Nico Saieh Quinta Monroy housing. Image Courtesy of ELEMENTAL + 11

AD Round-Up: The Best of Contemporary Chilean Architecture

Chilean architecture, having long stood in the shadow of more established design traditions in Europe and North America, has been catapulted to the forefront of global attention with the news that architect Alejandro Aravena has been named the 41st Pritzker Prize Laureate – the first Chilean to receive the award. He is also the director of this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale, which focuses on the role of architects in improving the living conditions of people across the globe, especially in cases where scarce resources and the “inertia of reality” stand in the way of progress.

2016 Pritzker Prize Winner Alejandro Aravena's Work in 15 Images

Alejandro Aravena is the first Chilean architect to ever receive a Pritzker Prize. Praised for reviving the socially engaged architect, the 48-year-old architect and executive director of ELEMENTAL has proved architecture's ability to solve pressing global issues through his diverse portfolio. Read on to see 15 projects that exemplify Aravena's contribution to architecture so far.

Three Years in Villa Verde, ELEMENTAL’s Incremental Housing Project in Constitución, Chile

Where were you when it happened? On February 27, 2010 an 8.8-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck Chile, causing destruction across the country. Ask any Chilean what they were doing at the time, and they will have a story to tell.

Oriana Pinochet Villagra and her family were in Constitución when the ground started to shake. A town centered around the forestry industry, Constitución is surrounded by green mountains, and situated where the Maule river meets the Pacific Ocean.

It was one of the cities most affected by the earthquake in 2010. The ocean water flooded the river, wrecking everything that the earthquake hadn’t already destroyed. Those that lived along the riverbank were left in the street with mud burying their houses -- Oriana's family lost 30 years of memories.

Almost six years after the natural disaster, we visited Constitución where Oriana Pinochet showed us one of the major reconstruction projects in the city: Villa Verde Housing, a residential neighborhood for 484 of the affected families. With partial financing from housing subsidies and based on the idea of incremental housing, the project is designed by ELEMENTAL, the “Do Tank” of 2016 Pritzker Prize laureate, Alejandro Aravena.

Alejandro Aravena Wins 2016 Pritzker Prize

Alejandro Aravena has been named as the winner of the 2016 Pritzker Prize. Highlighting his dedication to improve urban environments and to address the global housing crisis, the Pritzker Prize jury praised the way in which the Chilean architect has "risen to the demands of practicing architecture as an artful endeavor, as well as meeting today's social and economic challenges." Aravena is the 41st Pritzker Prize laureate and the first Chilean to receive the award.

At 48 years of age, Aravena has a large portfolio of private, public and educational projects in Chile, the USA, Mexico, China and Switzerland. But perhaps more notably, through his “Do Tank” firm ELEMENTAL he has managed to build 2,500 units of social housing, engaging in the public housing policies of governments where he works and taking an opportunistic approach to market forces to generate a powerful impact on lower-income communities.

"Alejandro Aravena epitomizes the revival of a more socially engaged architect, especially in his long-term commitment to tackling the global housing crisis and fighting for a better urban environment for all,” explained the Jury in their citation. “He has a deep understanding of both architecture and civil society, as is reflected in his writing, his activism and his designs. The role of the architect is now being challenged to serve greater social and humanitarian needs, and Alejandro Aravena has clearly, generously and fully responded to this challenge."

UC Innovation Center – Anacleto Angelini, San Joaquín Campus, Universidad Católica de Chile. Santiago, Chile 2014. Image © Nina Vidic Monterrey Housing. Monterrey, Mexico 2010. Image © Ramiro Ramirez Medical School, Universidad Católica de Chile. Santiago, Chile 2004. Image © Roland Halbe Siamese Towers, San Joaquín Campus, Universidad Católica de Chile. Santiago, Chile 2005. Image © Cristobal Palma + 23