(P1) Chilean ARCHITECT Alejandro Aravena has been named as the 2016 winner of the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s EQUIVALENT of the Nobel prizes.

(P2) Aravena, 48, will be the 41st winner of the Pritzker Prize, receiving a $100,000 GRANT and a bronze medal during a ceremony at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, on 4 April.

(P3) Aravena is best known for his work with Elemental, an architecture group that aims to tackle poverty and eliminate slums using a PARTICIPATORY approach that engages local communities in early stages of the design process.


(P4) Elemental, of which Aravena is executive director, won international praise for its 2004 “half a house” Quinta Monroy development in Iquique, Chile. The scheme was designed to make the most of a tiny budget by building the frame and the ESSENTIAL spaces for each house, leaving the remainder for residents to complete themselves over time according to their own needs and financial means.

(P5) The success of the project has led to the “half a house” concept being used at a number of other locations across Central and South America.

(P6) The group also played an important role in the rebuilding of Constitución, one of the towns that was almost destroyed by the 2010 Chilean EARTHQUAKE and TSUNAMI.

(P7) It is the second time in three years that the Pritzker JURY has chosen an architect who is best-known for HUMANITARIAN design rather than “statement architecture.”

(P8) The 2014 winner was Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, who is highly respected for his PIONEERING use of cardboard in disaster relief projects around the world.

(P9) The 2016 jury said that Aravena had “meaningfully expanded the role of the architect” through his social housing work.

(P10) “Alejandro Aravena is leading a new generation of architects that has a HOLISTIC understanding of the built environment and has clearly demonstrated the ability to connect social responsibility, economic demands, design of human habitat and the city,” said the CITATION. “[He] EPITOMISES the revival of a more socially engaged architect.”

(P11) Aravena is the CURATOR of the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, one of the most significant events in the architectural calendar. The biennale will take place in May with the theme Reporting from the Front, which aims to focus on the biggest social and political issues that architects are involved with around the world.

(P12) He was a member of the Pritzker jury from 2009 to 2015.


(P13) Other projects by the architect include a series of major buildings for the Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago, including the “Siamese Towers” (above) and the monumental UC Innovation Center (below), which was named architecture winner in the London Design Museum’s 2015 Designs of the Year awards.


(P14) He was selected as the winner of the 2016 Pritzker Architecture Prize by a jury including British architect Richard Rogers, who won the Pritzker in 2007, and Australian architect Glenn Murcutt, who was the 2002 recipient.

(P15) “He understands materials and construction, but also the importance of poetry and the power of architecture to communicate on many levels,” said the jury.

(P16) “The younger generation of architects and designers who are looking for opportunities to affect change, can learn from the way Alejandro Aravena takes on multiple roles instead of the singular position of a designer to FACILITATE a housing project, and by doing so, discovers that such opportunities may be created by architects themselves.”

(P17) The jury was led by architecture PATRON Peter Palumbo, and also included US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Chinese architect Yung Ho Chang, Spanish architect Benedetta Tagliabue, Berlin-based writer and curator Kristin Feireiss, and steel executive Ratan N. Tata.

(P18) Aravena is the first Pritzker winner from Chile, and the fourth from South America. Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, who was awarded the prize in 1988, designed the UN building where Aravena will collect his medal.

(P19) Last year’s winner was German architect and engineer Frei Otto. Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster, Rem Koolhaas, Toyo Ito, and Jørn Utzon are among others on the list of previous winners, which can be read as a WHO’S WHO of contemporary architecture.

WORDS: 670



If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. How would you describe the architectural style of your house or apartment building?
  3. What makes Alejandro Aravena’s architectural work “socially engaged”?
  4. Aravena believes that good architects should work for ordinary people and the poor, not just for rich clients. What is your opinion?
  5. Is the housing for LOW-INCOME families in your city attractive or ugly?


What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Who’s who
  • Low-income

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