Aravena, Alejandro1967–, Chilean architect, b. Santiago, grad. Pontifical Catholic Univ. of Chile, Santiago (1992). Inspired by public service as much as by aesthetic concerns, he has focused on innovative, low-cost housing as well as on more traditional architectural projects. While a professor (2000–2005) at Harvard he cofounded (2001) and became executive director of the socially engaged architectural group Elemental, now based in Santiago. Aravena and Elemental are probably best known for "incremental housing," affordable residences first developed (2004) for 100 families in Iquique, N Chile. Each home's concrete shell provided basic necessities but left space for homeowners to complete and expand, creating a financially feasible, successful, and varied neighborhood. The incremental technique and others have since been used in projects throughout Chile, including in rebuilding (2013) Constitución, Chile, after the 2010 earthquake and tsunami. Aravena has also designed numerous public projects. Of the several buildings at his alma mater's San Joaquin campus, the most famous are the "Siamese Towers" technology center (2005), two joined buildings that seem to bend away from each other, and the Angelini Innovation Center (2014), a blocky concrete structure with deep rectangular apertures that reduce energy use and a soaring interior atrium. Other projects include dormitories for St. Edward Univ., Austin, Tex. (2009), incremental housing for Monterrey, Mex. (2010), Las Cruces Pilgrim Lookout Point, Jalisco, Mex. (2010), and the Writer's Cabin, Montricher, Switzerland (2015). Aravena, who has written several books on architecture, was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 2016.
See Alejandro Aravena: The Forces in Architecture (2011).