Chilean Architect Wins Prestigious Architectural Award

This year’s Pritzker Prize, an architectural award, was given to a Chilean architect, Alejandro Aravena. At 48, his achievements and buildings span various continents and of course, throughout his native Chile. Past winners of this prize include the Brazilian architect, Oscar Niemeyer, who had a prolific career around the world and is known for his architectural and urban planning achievements in the Brazilian capital of Brasília. Unlike many of his colleagues who have won the esteemed award, what sets Aravena apart is not his grandeur or monumental structures but in fact just the opposite.

Among Aravena’s most influential works are his public housing projects in Constitución, Chile and Monterrey, Mexico. Aravena, along with his think tank “Do Tank” and the NGO Elemental, have pioneered new ways to build and design public housing units. Aravena’s idea is to build partial homes for residents who, after purchasing the tract, complete the houses to meet their specific needs. According to Pritzker, whom the award is named after, “Alejandro Aravena has pioneered a collaborative practice that produces powerful works of architecture and also addresses key challenges of the 21st century,” creating a new way of looking at public housing that is not only more cost effective but more personalized.2 Aravena and his team have worked across Chile to give residents accessible private and public spaces, creating a sense that he is an architect of the people by the people instead of an elitist designer like many previous winners.

Along with his work in participatory design, which Aravena believes to be the future of architecture, he has designed several buildings for the Catholic University of Santiago, Chile. 1 His designs for the campus are efficient in both layout and materials, always keeping in mind the communal necessities of the people using the space. Beginning in 1999 his designs for the campus have, according to the Pritzker prize board, been “energy-efficient buildings [that]  respond to the local climate with innovative, efficient facades and floor plans and offer the users natural light and convivial meeting places.” Aravena has proven that affordable architecture can be beautiful, efficient, and modern and can incorporate complex ideas into simple and accessible designs. The awarding of the Pritzker prize to Aravena marks a new page in architectural prestige, taking a step away from the grandiose and thinking more about everyday architecture.  


  1. Ulaby, Neda. "2016 Pritzker Prize Goes To Chilean Architect Alejandro Aravena." NPR. NPR, 13 Jan. 2016. Web. 22 Jan. 2016. Available at:

  2. "Announcement." N.p., 13 Jan. 2016. Web. 22 Jan. 2016. Available at:

  3. Link to his works can be found here:

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