The socially-engaged Chilean architect Mr. Alejandro Aravena won the award of 2017. Based in Santiago de Chile, where Aravena co-founded the firm ELEMENTAL, he works innovatively with his colleagues to promote social housing. They argue that with the right design, sustainability is nothing but the rigorous use of common sense. The results are often simple solutions to complex challenges.
Working towards a sustainable future is a complex and difficult task, where design is a powerful tool. Design does not only affect choice of materials, but also how the built environment is going to be materialized, how products and services are used and how people will live together. It is often not about the best technical solution, but the holistic approach to improve people's quality of life.
In two decades’ time, it is predicted that six billion people will live in cities, two billion of them will be living below the poverty line. The need for affordable and adequate social housing now and in the future is great. Innovative design of the future cities will be crucial for a sustainable development.
Mr Alejandro Aravena, together with his colleagues in the “Do-Tank” firm Elemental, applies a design philosophy including citizens as part of the solution and not part of the problem, creating bridges of trust between people, government and business. All three dimensions of sustainability are balanced in a participatory process; socially, environmentally and economically.
All members of Elemental, from left: Víctor Oddó, Juan Ignacio Cerda, Diego Torres, Alejandro Aravena & Gonzalo Arteaga. Photo: Andrea Avezz.