Villa Verde Housing / ELEMENTAL. Photos by Suyin Chia

Villa Verde Housing / ELEMENTAL. Photos by Suyin Chia

Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena shares the fundamentals of his design philosophy in a documented interview titled “To Design is to Prefer.” The Pritzker Prize winner founded his practice in 2001, committed to exploring socially conscious design practices. His firm, Elemental, first gained international recognition for its work creating social housing projects in Chile, but its portfolio continues to expand to include work from museums, universities, transportation, and urban infrastructure.

This video highlights the mental process behind Aravena’s personal practices and insights into Elemental’s unique approach to design. The interview begins discussing Aravena’s introduction to architecture as a teen and how architecture, a rather obscure phenomenon to the young Aravena, became his passion. Throughout the film, Aravena flips to the pages of his sketchbooks, illustrating the raw hand of the architect.

“Physically shaking a building, everything that was not strictly necessary falls. So why wait for the earthquake? Can’t we submit design to a mental force that has taken out everything that is not strictly necessary?”
– Alejandro Aravena



Elemental’s approach to a project begins by formulating a question. Once the completed question is introduced, the team can begin to experiment with architectural solutions. Many of these solutions, Aravena has found, require architecture to be in a state of “irreducible existence” or “without frills.” At its core, architecture is composed of a series of decisions, the architect describes. When working on projects with limited resources, each decision has a greater impact on the overall design.


via 99 Percent Invisible

via 99 Percent Invisible

Aravena recognizes some elements of his projects as more successful than others, but Elemental’s approach to architecture and ability to propose a solution to contemporary social issues through innovative building practices have provided the international architecture community with greater knowledge to solve global issues.

News via: Louisiana Museum

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