Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena has been named as the 2016 recipient of the Pritzker, architecture's equivalent of the Nobel prize, ahead of curating this year's Venice Architecture Biennale.
Aravena is best known for his work with "do tank" 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.
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.
The success of the project has seen the "half a house" concept deployed at a number of locations across Central and South America.
The group also played a focal role in the rebuilding of Constitución, one of the towns that was almost destroyed by the 2010 Chilean earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
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.
- by Simon Miller
ALEJANDRO ARAVENA / 2016
Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena has been named as the 2016 recipient of the Pritzker.
The 2016 jury said that Aravena had "meaningfully expanded the role of the architect" through his social housing work.
"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."
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 negotiating with around the world.