Alejandro Aravena, Pritzker Prizer - Photo: Leonardo Maldonado CC
A socially committed architecture. This is how the work of Alejandro Aravena, recent winner of the Pritzker Prize or the ‘Nobel of Architecture', could be defined.
The work of Aravena is not overly well known in Europe as he has concentrated mainly in his home country, Chile. At the head of ELEMENTAL S.A., the architect has carried out social infrastructure, transportation, public space and housing projects in cooperation with the Universidad Católica de Chile. ELEMENTAL is an international initiative to innovate and build very low-cost housing developments. To date, Aravena has created more than 2,500 dwellings of this type, principally in Latin America.
His working process involves all the players involved in the gestation of the project; Aravena has made the concept of "incremental housing" his own, a concept which originated in Latin America in the 1960s and aims to provide conditions that gradually allow for the improvement and the upward social mobility of those most disadvantaged.
According to Tom Pritzker, president of the Hyatt Foundation which awards the prize, "Alejandro Aravena has pioneered a type of collaborative practice that creates powerful architectural works and also deals with some of the major challenges of the 21st century. The work he has built offers an economic opportunity to the less privileged, mitigates the effects of natural disasters, reduces energy consumption and provides welcoming public spaces. Innovative and inspiring, it proves that good architecture can improve the lives of the people".