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Q&A With Alejandro Aravena on Architects Capacity for Impact

April 6, 2016

Editors Samuel Medina and Avinash Rajagopal of Metropolis recently sat down with Chilean architect and social housing innovator Alejandro Aravena to discuss his role as the 2016 director of the Venice Architecture Biennale. Aravena’s theme for the event–”Reporting from the Front”–calls for proposals that address the Pritzker Prize winner’s list of “pressing issues concerning humanity’s continued existence.”

“Before going into any solutions, you have to try to understand what the question is. In the ’60s, when everybody was saying that technology was going to be the answer, [British architect] Cedric Price asked, “What is the question?” I wanted, first of all, to make a survey of challenges and potential threats that we should not forget—from pollution and natural disasters to inequality. I’m not worried if this list is not perfect or if it is too little. I filtered those threats through the built environment as a way to tackle them and by identifying who’s working on these issues.”

Aravena also speaks to the involvement of organizations like the UN and its upcoming Habitat III conference, as well as the tension between architecture’s artistic pursuits of originality and its social aims to achieve replicable solutions to problems. Aravena believes good design solutions can achieve both, and successful proposals to the Biennale should demonstrate such.

Click here to read the full Q&A.