This year’s Pritzker Architecture Prize winner, the Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, is known for his socially-minded design. Since establishing his Santiago firm ELEMENTAL in 2001, Aravena has designed some 2,500 units of housing. Yet, Aravena cautioned during a panel discussion at the United Nations last night, “It’s a mistake to think if a problem is big, the solution is big.”
In Aravena’s estimation, a small-scale solution can be squeezed into 17.1 Megabytes: At the panel, the architect proceeded to announce that the drawings for his social housing projects will be available for free download off of his firm’s website.
According to the firm, “From now on [the designs] are public knowledge, an open source that we hope will be able to rule out one more excuse for why markets and governments don’t move in this direction to tackle the challenges of massive rapid urbanization.”
The CAD files, titled the “ABC of Incremental Housing” includes plans for four housing complexes across Latin America: Quinta Monroy in Inquique, Chile (2004), Lo Barnechea in Santiago (2010), a complex in Monterrey, Mexico (2009), and Villa Verde (2013) which was built after an earthquake destroyed Constitución, Chile.
Each scheme details the construction of half a house, leaving room for occupants to expand the structure themselves, when they have the means to do so.
“We won’t solve problems unless we include people’s building capacity,” Aravena said.
The gesture is a fitting overture for this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale, which Aravena is curating. Themed Reporting from the Front, the Biennale will delve into complex global issues including pollution, global warming, migration, and poverty.