ELEMENTAL | UC Innovation Center

An open and eco-friendly university building.

Location: San Joa­quín Cam­pus | Uni­ver­si­dad Ca­tó­li­ca de Chi­le | San­tia­go, Chi­le
Client: Grupo Angelini | Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Category Winner: Architecture
Designs of the Year 2015, Design Museum, London

Architects: ELEMENTAL (Chile)

“Santiago’s climate requires to change the conventional approach to working space design. We substituted the contemporary typical glass skin, responsible for serious greenhouse effect in interiors, for a thermal mass on the perimeter that avoids undesired heat gains. On the other hand, innovation and knowledge creation requires increasing encounters among people, so openness is desired. We multiplied open air squares throughout the building’s entire height and proposed a permeable atrium core so that while circulating vertically, people could see what others are doing. This reversed placement of opaqueness and transparency is the way sustainability and human relationships informed the form.”

Construction Year: 2012-2014
Budget: USD 18 million


ELEMENTAL (Alejandro Aravena, Gonzalo Arteaga, Juan Cerda, Victor Oddó, Diego Torres) is a Do Tank founded in 2001, focusing on projects of public interest and social impact, including housing, public space, infrastructure and transportation. A hallmark of the firm is a participatory design process in which the architects work closely with the public and end users. ELEMENTAL has built work in Chile, the United States, Mexico, China and Switzerland. After the 2010 earthquake and tsunami that hit Chile, ELEMENTAL was called to work on the reconstruction of the city of Constitución, where we had to integrate all the previous experiences. The approach we developed proved to be useful for other cases where city design was used to solve social and political conflicts. At the moment, we keep on expanding into new fields of action.

█ Website: http://www.elementalchile.cl/

Photography: Cristobal Palma, Felipe Diaz Contardo (www.fotoarq.com), Nina Vidic, Nico Saieh

Social housing, Incremental housing, Half a good house instead of a small one…. Housing as investment

Kosovo Architecture Foundation Published on Oct 8, 2015
Prishtina Architecture Week 2015, Day 4, Alejandro Aravena
Principal of Alejandro Aravena Architects, established in 1994 and, since 2006, Executive Director of ELEMENTAL, a for profit company with social interest working in projects of infrastructure, transportation, public space and housing, partnering with Universidad Catolica de Chile and COPEC, Chilean Oil Company.

He has been member of the Pritzker Prize Jury since 2009. The laureates chosen during his presence in the Jury have been: Peter Zumthor (2009), SANAA Kazuyo Sejima (2010), Eduardo Souto de Moura (2011), Wang Shu (2012), Toyo Ito (2013) and Shigeru Ban (2014). He was named Honorary International Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in 2009; member of the Board of the Cities Program of the London School of Economics, London, since 2011; Regional Advisory Board Member of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies;

Board Member of the Holcim Foundation, Zurich, Switzerland, since 2013; Foundational Member of the Chilean Society of Public Policies; Leader of the Helsinki Design Lab for SITRA, the Finnish Innovation Fund for the Government of Finland to design a national strategy towards carbon neutrality; and Board Member of Espacio Público, an independant chilean research center created in 2012. He was one of the 100 personalities contributing to the G+20 Rio Global Summit in June 2012, and was one of the speakers of TED Global 2014 in Rio.

Aravena was recently named as the Director of the 15th Architecture Exhibition of the Venezia Biennale.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

ELEMENTAL housingELEMENTAL | Participatory design, social modelling for housing


Filed under Architecture, Business, Construction, Coolness, Democracy, Design, Geography, Innovation, Inspiration, Leading edge, Media, Name, Project management, Property, Site, Structural engineering, Urban design

8 responses to “ELEMENTAL | UC Innovation Center

  1. Elizabeth

    ARCHITECTURE: Pritzker Prize | 2016 Laureate

    Alejandro Aravena of Chile receives the 2016 Pritzker Architecture Prize
    http://www.pritzkerprize.com/2016/announcement [+ related information]

    Alejandro Aravena [via inhabitat.com]

    ### pbs.org January 13, 2016 at 10:59 AM EST
    [Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), USA]
    Photos: The elegant, problem-solving designs by architecture’s top prize winner
    By Corinne Segal
    Alejandro Aravena, an architect known for his innovative approach to solving urban problems through social design, received the Pritzker Prize on Wednesday. Aravena, 48, is the first recipient from Chile and the fourth from Latin America. He is the head of Elemental, an architecture firm based in Santiago, Chile that focuses on projects that have a social impact. The firm, which has designed 2,500 low-cost housing units, is known for its emphasis on participatory design, using input and materials from the communities in which they build projects.
    The Pritzker Prize, which is now considered the highest honor in architecture, was first awarded in 1979 to Philip Johnson. The prize is awarded each year to someone who “has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture,” according to a statement from the prize committee.
    Aravena said in a statement Wednesday that he felt galvanized by the prize to continue his work. “The prestige, the reach, the gravitas of the prize is such that we hope to use its momentum to explore new territories, face new challenges, and walk into new fields of action,” he said.
    Read more + Images

    • Diane Yeldon

      i think there is nothing that so much gives young people, old people, all people so much hope for their lives as owning their own home with a little bit of land fit for making a garden. it gives people something to do, something to care about and something to look forward to, the three essentials to keep despair at bay and have a contented life. Excellent idea from this architect that people don’t have to start at the top. Here in NZ, they can’t afford to. I detest the bank ads for mortgages on tv, with happy young couple with perfect state of the art house and often baby as well. Complete fantasy that many can afford this.

  2. Hype O'Thermia

    They look nice and new in the photo, but really they’re Coronation Street with disabled-unfriendly access aren’t they?

  3. Hype O'Thermia

    I don’t like having to watch things. Radio is great, MP3s when I can be bothered loading them into the listening box which isn’t often. One can work outside then do indoor jobs when it’s dark, being entertained and informed and arguing back to the hedge-cutters when someone talks nonsense…….

    • Elizabeth

      Smartphone has speaker – load and listen while hoeing the potatoes.
      Smartphone has earphones – [ditto].
      Any weather. Any hour.
      She couched. If charged.

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