Alejandro Aravena: My architectural philosophy?

When asked to build housing for 100 families in Chile ten years ago, Alejandro Aravena looked to an unusual inspiration: the wisdom of favelas and slums. Rather than building a large building with small units, he built flexible half-homes that each family could expand on. It was a complex problem, but with a simple solution — one that he arrived at by working with the families themselves. With a chalkboard and beautiful images of his designs, Aravena walks us through three projects where clever rethinking led to beautiful design with great benefit.

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Alejandro Aravena (born 1967) is an architect from Santiago, Chile. He is executive director of the firm ELEMENTAL S.A.

Aravena graduated from the Universidad Católica de Chile in 1992. He established Alejandro Aravena Architects in 1994. In 2006 he became the executive director of ELEMENTAL S.A, a for profit company working on infrastructure, transportation, public space and housing projects.[1]

Aravena designed the “Siamese Towers”, school of architecture, and faculty buildings at the Universidad Católica. He designed the Colegio Huelquen Montessori, the Casa para una Escultora (House for a Sculptor), Casa en el lago Pirehueico (House en the side of Pirehueico, the new offices of St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, art workshops on the Vitra campus at Weil am Rhein, Villa en Ordos Inner Mongolia (Villa in Ordos Inner Mongolia) and projects for the Elemental initiative. He also designed the recently opened Metropolitan Park of Santiago.[1]

Aravena was a visiting professor at Harvard Graduate School of Design from 2000–05 and is the Elemental-Copec Professor at Universidad Católica de Chile. Aravena authored Los Hechos de la Arquitectura (ARQ, 1999), El Lugar de la Arquitectura (ARQ, 2002) and a monograph on Elemental (Actar, 2010).[1] He is a member of the Pritzker Prize Jury[1] and is an International Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.[1]

Aravena won the León de Plata XI Bienal in Venice, the Erich Schelling Architecture Medal in 2006 and was a finalist for the Mies van der Rohe Award (2000), the Iakhov Chernikhov Prize (2008). [2] He received aGlobal Award for Sustainable Architecture winner in 2008. He received a Silver Lion at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2008.<fest/> He was a 2011 Index: award winner. Exhibitions of his work have included a showing at Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2004, the Sao Paulo Biennale in 2007, the Milan Triennale in 2008 and the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2008 and MoMA, New York in 2010.


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