Watch our video on Pritzker Prize-winner Alejandro Aravena
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Watch our short video about Pritzker Prize-winner Alejandro Aravena

Last week, Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena won the Pritzker Architecture Prize. To celebrate, Dezeen has produced this short movie, which serves as an introduction to Aravena's work.

UC Innovation Center at the San Joaquín Campus, Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, 2014. Photograph by Nina Vidic
The monumental cube structure of the UC Innovation Center – Anacleto Angelini designed by Aravena for his alma mater, the Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago. Photograph by Nina Vidic

Aravena, 48, was selected as the 2016 winner of the Pritzker Prize – architecture's equivalent of the Nobel Prize – by a jury that included leading architects Richard Rogers and Glenn Murcutt.


Related content: read the full citation from the Pritzker jury »


The Chilean architect studied at the Universidad Católica de Chile, and has designed a series of major buildings for the university's campus since founding his own firm in 1994.

Quinta Monroy Housing, Iquique, 2004. Photograph by Cristobal Palma
The 2004 Quinta Monroy Housing project in Iquique brought Aravena's "half a good house" concept to international attention. Photograph by Cristobal Palma

The latest is the UC Innovation Center – Anacleto Angelini, a monumental concrete structure with large glass openings.

Aravena is best known for his social housing work with Elemental, which describes itself as an architectural "do tank". The group aims to tackle poverty and eliminate slums as well as private projects.

Alejandro-Aravena-Monterrey-Housing_dezeen_936_1
The Monterrey Housing development in Mexico is another example of a "half a good house" development by Elemental. Photograph by Ramiro Ramirez

Elemental's "half a good house" concept provides poor families with the parts of a house that they can't build themselves, leaving a void in the other half for them to fill according to their needs and finances.

The first of these was the Quinta Monroy development in Iquique in 2004, and it proved so successful the firm has now built 2,500 of the units at various locations.

Alejandro Aravena
In an exclusive interview, Aravena told Dezeen that universities aren't teaching architects the right thing

In an exclusive interview with Dezeen, Aravena said that universities were not giving architects the tools they needed to deliver solutions to the world's housing problems.

"It would be great, with more than one million architects in the world, that more solutions and more proposals try to address the issue," he said.

Ruta del Peregrino: Crosses Lookout Point by Elemental
Elemental also designed a concrete lookout point and shelter for the Ruta del Peregrino pilgrimage route in Mexico. Photograph by Iwan Baan

Elemental's other projects include a concrete lookout point and shelter for the Ruta del Peregrino pilgrimage route in Mexico.


Related content: read more about Alejandro Aravena's key projects »


The studio has also been helping to rebuild the Chilean town of Constitución, which was devastated by the 2010 earthquake and tsunami. Its projects in the town include a series of lookout points along the coastline, designed to attract tourists.

Constitución Seaside Promenade, Constitución, 2014
Elemental's Constitución Seaside Promenade project is included in our roundup of key project by Alejandro Aravena. Photograph by Felipe Diaz