Portrait of Alejandro Aravena - Photo by Cristobal Palma, courtesy of ELEMENTAL.

Portrait of Alejandro Aravena – Photo by Cristobal Palma, courtesy of ELEMENTAL.

The Board of la Biennale di Venezia appointed Alejandro Aravena as artistic director of 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale.From May 28 to November 27, the international exhibition will be focused on the “battles to be won”: how architecture could contributes to overtake social, environmental and political challenges?

UC Innovation Center Anacleto Angelini by Elemental - Photo by Nina Vidic, Courtesy of Elemental.

UC Innovation Center Anacleto Angelini by Elemental – Photo by Nina Vidic, Courtesy of Elemental.

Based in Santiago, Chile, Alejandro Aravena is best known as founder of ELEMENTAL, an architecture firm constantly in search for innovation and design in projects of public interest and social impact.

UC Innovation Center Anacleto Angelini by Elemental - Photo by Felipe Diaz Contardo, www.fotoarq.com.

UC Innovation Center Anacleto Angelini by Elemental – Photo by Felipe Diaz Contardo, www.fotoarq.com.

Aravena said “There are several battles that need to be won and several frontiers that need to be expanded in order to improve the quality of the built environment and, consequently, people’s quality of life”.

Constituciòn Tourist loin by Elemental (2015) - Photo by Felipe Diaz Contardo, www.fotoarq.com.

Constituciòn Tourist loin by Elemental (2015) – Photo by Felipe Diaz Contardo, www.fotoarq.com.

This is what we would like people to come and see at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition: success stories worth to be told and exemplary cases worth to be shared where architecture did, is and will make a difference in those battles and frontiers”.

Constituciòn Tourist loin by Elemental (2015) - Photo by Felipe Diaz Contardo, www.fotoarq.com.

Constituciòn Tourist loin by Elemental (2015) – Photo by Felipe Diaz Contardo, www.fotoarq.com.

Aravena’s approach to Venice Biennale seems to be in contrast with Rem Koohlas’ curatorship. As director of the 2014 edition, the Dutch architect detatched from contemporaneity with his Fundamentals exhibition and the much debated Asborbing Modernity provocation. Click on the picture below to find out more.

ABSORBING MODERNITY . ArchiPanic selection of the most impressive national participation at the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale.

ABSORBING MODERNITY . ArchiPanic selection of the most impressive national participation at the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale.

President of Biennale di Venezia Paolo Baratta said that after Rem Koolhaas, the upcoming Biennale must “convene the architects and be dedicated to the exploration of the new frontier that demonstrate the vitality of architecture”.

Casa OCHOQUEBRADAS by Elemental (2014) - Photo by Elemental.

Casa OCHOQUEBRADAS by Elemental (2014) – Photo by Elemental.

This Biennale intends to react once again to the gap between architecture and civil society, which in recent decades has transformed architecture into spectacle on the one hand, yet made it dispensable on the other” Continued Baratta.

Casa OCHOQUEBRADAS by Elemental (2014) - Photo by Elemental.

Casa OCHOQUEBRADAS by Elemental (2014) – Photo by Elemental.

Aravena is not new to the Venice Biennale. After winning the Silver Lion in 2008,  in 2012 he was invited  with ELEMENTAL by curator David Chipperfield. On that occasion the team presented The Magnet and the Bomb installation.

The Magnet and The Bomb @ Venice Architecture Biennale 2012 - Courtesy of Elemental.

The Magnet and The Bomb @ Venice Architecture Biennale 2012 – Courtesy of Elemental.

The project featured two urban social interventions that required a common ground between several stakeholders: Constitución, a city of 50,000 inhabitants that was almost entirely destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami in 2010, and Calama, a town of 150,000 situated in the driest desert in the world.


RELATED STORY: Monolith Controversies. Chile Pavilion at Venice Architecture Biennale 2014 reflected on the country prefabricated past. The exhibition was centred around a standing isolated large-concrete panel as a symbol of the Chilean political history and as its house-stock unit.

Chile Pavilion "Monolith Controversies" - Photo by Gonzalo Puga.

Chile Pavilion “Monolith Controversies” – Photo by Gonzalo Puga.

Indeed that type of monoliths were mass produced to create thousands of apartments all over the country. They embodied many social and political controversies from Allende to Pinochet… But, mostly, they represented also how Chile processed modernity in the past century.

Chile Pavilion "Monolith Controversies" - Photo by Gonzalo Puga.

Chile Pavilion “Monolith Controversies” – Photo by Gonzalo Puga.


Below a brief video of the project by Alejandro Aravena and Elemental for the panoramic viewpoint “Mirador la Cruces” in Mexico.

Photos: courtesy of Elemental and Felipe Diaz Contardo.