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“Reporting from the Front”

From May 28th to November 28th 2016, Venice will live under the sign of architecture. The Biennial is more and more popular and successful, taking account of the increasing number of architecture students in the world. Its President Paolo Baratta has therefore informed that it would now last six months. This year’s edition will be managed by the Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena. This radical architect, known for his pioneering ideas and his works in favour of the less privileged, has recently been awarded the 2016 Pritzker Prize. It is a refreshing choice. With its provocative title « Reporting from the Front », which means a battle against « inertia of reality », the Venice Biennial wants to center the debate on the great world challenges such as: poverty, pollution, megapolis congestion, segregation, criminality, disparity, suburbs, natural disasters, housing shortage, migration, traffic, garbage, community participation… « It is not enough to raise awareness, underlines Alejandro Aravena, I want them to leave with more tools. We have to share the challenges being conscious of the future battles. » The event, from the central exhibition to the associated projects at the Arsenale, in the Central Pavilion or in the Giardini, will underline the work of the 88 participants coming from 37 countries such as 51N4E (Belgium), Aires Mateus (Portugal), Amateur Architecture Studio (China), Atelier Peter Zumyhor & Partner (Switzerland), Film First (USA), Grafton Architects (Ireland), Grupo EPM (Colombia), SANAA (Japan), LAN (France) or OMA (The Netherlands). Fifty architects will be participating for the first time and 30 of them are less than 40 years old. Let’s note the partnership with the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, with an exhibition « A world of Fragile Parts » organized by Brendan Cormier for the future UN Habitat III World Conference taking place in Quito in October 2016. Another event to point out is the exhibition « Cities: Conflicts of an Urban Age », presented by Ricky Burdett in the pavilion dedicated to the city planning problems. The full program and the list of participants are available on

The Archi-Europe team

Portrait of the month

1 Alejandro Aravena

2 Mathematics School

3 School of Architecture

Medical School

Siamese Towers

Edward’s University Dorms

7 Monterrey Housing

8 Villa Verde Housing

9 UC Innovation Center

10 Writer’s Cabin

11 Novartis Office Building

Alejandro Aravena, Chile

Innovative and inspiring, representing the revival of a more socially engaged architecture the Chilean Alejandro Aravena has proved his capacity to face today's social and economic key challenges.

If the South American architecture is represented by many well-known personalities- Luis Barragan, Oscar Niemeyer and Paulo Mendes da Rocha, as leaders, all three having received the Pritzker Prize-, during a long time, Chile stood in the shadow. But things are changing. Chilean architects are now more and more present on the international scene with the recognition of Pedro Alonso and Hugo Palmarola (Silver Lion at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennial) with Mathias Klotz and Pezo von Ellrichshausen or also Smiljan Radic who has drawn the Galerie Serpentine’s London annual pavilion in 2014.

Since a few weeks, Chile has been pushed to the forefront of global attention by the news that the architect Alejandro Aravena has been awarded the 2016 Pritzker Prize, the first Chilean to ever receive the award. The jury of the most prestigious Architecture Prize wanted to recognize his work in favour of lower-income communities, to reduce the consequences of natural disasters and control energy consumption, especially in his long-term commitment to tackling the global housing crisis and fighting for a better urban environment for all. “Alejandro Aravena has clearly, generously and fully responded to this challenge, showing a deep understanding of both architecture and civil society, as is reflected in his writing, his activism and his designs.”

Born in 1967, he opened his office Alejandro Aravena Architects in 1994 after having graduated at the Universidad Catolica de Chile, for which he undertook several buildings. His first project was the renovation of the Mathematics School, a building existing since 1990, to which he added a zinc skin, manufactured with a new material used in the fruit packing industry. Then the Medical School, the Architecture School, and the Innovation Center, the most recent project which stands on the skyline of Santiago as an astonishing assembly of monolithic blocks. Inviting and remarkably humane, this powerful opaque structure on the exterior has a light filled glass atrium inside. Its energy consumption is minimal. Finished in 2014, it was chosen in 2015, Design of the Year in the Architecture section of the London Design Museum.

However it is his pioneering work, which brought Aravena his greatest reputation. In 2000, as professor at the Harvard School of Design, he takes part in an initiative trying to redefine social architecture. One year later with Andrés Jacobelli (an independent transport engineer), he creates ELEMENTAL, a studio specialized in projects of public interest and social goals. “Architecture is a collective discipline” states the architect, who with his partners (his former students Gonzalo Arteaga, Juan Cerda, Victor Oddo and Diego Torres) likes to work in a relative obscurity in Chile, at a key moment for a quality architecture. ELEMENTAL has built more than 2500 low cost social houses, with an important cooperation with the final user. Indeed, his conception of social housing, called “the half of a good house” enables the buyer to finish the house himself, giving him the sense of accomplishment and of personal involvement.

The Quinta Monroy project was the first Elemental’s low-cost “half a house” project to resettle about 100 families, which had squatted a site in the center of Iquique (north of Chile). The architect first conceived series of wooden basic structures, which the residents could complete afterwards, depending on their own needs and financial possibilities. Other similar projects followed like the Monterrey Housing project in Mexico (2010), and the Villa Verde project in the Chilean seaside resort Constitucion (2013). The office is specialized in projects for poor communities or for areas destroyed by catastrophes (like the earthquake of 8,8 and the tsunami which took place in Chile in February 2010) to identify the key needs of the population.

In his 22 year long career, Alejandro Aravena has drawn private, public and educational projects in Chile, USA, China, Switzerland, from the Siamese Towers (for classes and offices finished in 2005) to the building for the St-Edward University in Austin (Texas) and the Writer’s Cabin, a raised structure that sits under a shelter with a wavy punctured concrete roof – designed for the Swiss Jan Michalski Foundation's literary residency programme. From individual houses to institutional buildings, each construction shows a good understanding for the intelligent and appropriate use of materials and a commitment to create public spaces for the communities.
In Shanghai (China), the new office building for healthcare company Novartis proposes office spaces adapted to different types of work: individual, collective, formal and informal.

Alejandro Aravena admits that he is not at all interested by wealth or fame. “Life is much more important than money” says the architect who has started his activities in an unusual way during the last years of the Pinochet dictatorship. He leads today a new generation of architects with a global understanding of the built environment and has clearly demonstrated the possibility to connect social responsibility, economy requirements, house and city planning. “The environment of scarcity stops you from doing things that are not strictly necessary, whereas abundance can sometimes lead to a culture of doing things just because you can. The case of Chile, half way between to be poor enough to justify your answers, but not enough to act only to survive, can justify new ways and new creative opportunities. To be half way is very healthful.”

In his recent interviews, Alejandro Aravena doesn’t believe that the Pritzker Prize is putting him too much under pressure. On the contrary it gives him more liberty to make experiments. “ I am convinced that, from now onwards, I have nothing to prove to anyone. That is the reason why I feel motivated to take many more risks in the future.”

1 Alejandro Aravena
Copyright and courtesy of ELEMENTAL - Photo by Cristobal Palma

2 Mathematics School, Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chili (1999)
Copyright and courtesy of ELEMENTAL - Photo by Tadeuz Jalocha

3 School of Architecture, Santiago de Chili (2004)
Copyright and courtesy of ELEMENTAL - Photo by Martín Bravo

4 Medical School, Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile (2004)
Copyright and courtesy of ELEMENTAL - Photo by Roland Halbe

5 Siamese Towers, San Joaquín Campus, Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile (2005)
Copyright and courtesy of ELEMENTAL - Photo by Cristobal Palma

6 Edward’s University Dorms, Austin, Etats-Unis (2008)
Copyright and courtesy of ELEMENTAL - Photo by Cristobal Palma

7 Monterrey Housing, Monterrey, Mexico (2010)
Copyright and courtesy of ELEMENTAL - Photo by Ramiro Ramirez

8 Villa Verde Housing, Constitución, Chili (2013)
Copyright and courtesy of ELEMENTAL

9 UC Innovation Center – Anacleto Angelini, San Joaquín Campus, Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile (2014)
Copyright and courtesy of ELEMENTAL - Photo by Nina Vidic

10 Writer’s Cabin – Fondation Jan Michalski Foundation, Montricher, Switzerland (2015)
Copyright and courtesy of ELEMENTAL - Photo by +2 Architectes

11 Novartis Office Building, Shanghai, China (2015)
Copyright and courtesy of ELEMENTAL

Project of the month

Arquipelago - Contemporary Arts Centre, Ribeira Grande, São Miguel, Azores
Architects: Menos é Mais Arquitectos Associados & João Mendes Ribeiro Arquitecto.

Located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, on the largest island of the Azores archipelago, the Ribeira’s Contemporary Arts Centre highlights the dialogue between past and present, abstract forms and local typology.

This transdisciplinary project whose mission is to disseminate, create and produce emerging culture is a space of exchange and interface for people, knowledge and events. Designed by Francisco Vieira de Campos and Cristina Guedes, who will be present at the 15th Venice Architecture Biennial, the museum maintains the industrial character of the complex, which had formerly operated as an alcohol and tobacco factory. To the existing buildings built with rugged volcanic stone masonry, the architects added two large concrete buildings. The first occupies a formerly empty part of the site, whilst the other replaces an old damaged structure. Showing a variety of surfaces, textures and roughness, one is covered with a bright white coating and the other left unfinished to reveal basalt aggregate.

According to the architects Vieira de Campos, Guedes and Mendes Ribeiro, the appearing contrast will highlight the dialogue between the former factory and the new constructions, between which they have created a new public square. “We have tried to unite the different scales and times of its parts throughout a pictorial manipulation of the form and the materiality of the buildings.” The massive and abstract volumes of the additions compensate for the patios void. Everything works in perfect harmony with the old volcanic stone buildings. Underlining the place’s architectonical memory, the chosen typologies don’t alter the whole structure. The ACAC acquires its identity by this serene manner. The 12 000-square-metre complex offers exhibition galleries, multi-purpose rooms for performing arts, studios, laboratories and living quarters for resident artists. The containment of spaces enhances the spatial efficiency and the functionality of the different areas. Adjacent to the road, a small courtyard marks the entrance to the new buildings. The theme of light and shadow continues inside, where some spaces show bare walls and tiled floors, whilst others have been painted in white colour and feature wooden surfaces. The aspects of the sustainable performance of the buildings have been integrated through passive heating and cooling systems allowed by the thickness of the concrete walls, through the rainwater harvesting system and through the know-how of craft manufacturing combined with the present techniques. Conscious of the ressource management’s contemporary instability and of the generalized individualism, the architects have showed their ability to respect the genius loci where they intervene, to efficiently use the means at their disposal and give a meaning to what exists between past and future.

Photos © José Campos

Product of the month

Winner Architizer A+ Award 2016: jury prize, category Hall/Theatre

It has taken almost a quarter of a century, but now the Shakespearean Theatre in the city of Gdansk (Poland) is open to the public. Architect Renato Rizzi (Italy) used black facing bricks and pavers. This is how he created a new shade and a contrast in the predominantly red brick town.

Treasure chest
On the outside of the theatre a pair of Gothic elements can be seen, which reflect the style of the old city centre. For the façade, the architect used a dark charcoal brick, the Morvan. The black colour represents strength and durability, and contrasts nicely with the brickwork of the surrounding buildings. The pavers around the building are of the exact same colour.

The inside of the theatre is different from what you would imagine. White walls, bright marble stairs and birch wood panelling brighten up the interior. The residents of the city compare the theatre to a treasure chest: solid and heavy on the outside, refined and polished on the inside.

The layout of the building creates a multidimensional framework for the different types of activities: (theatre) performances, meetings, exhibitions or other events. The Shakespearean Theatre is not just a building, it is also a mirror of the city, a maze of narrow corridors (streets), squares (courtyards) and a complex world of different functions. There are three ways to stage a performance: with an open roof (the Elizabethan style), the traditional setting (the audience is in front of the stage) and an arena layout (the scene is surrounded by the audience). The narrow corridors around the audience lead to a large lobby and an outdoor patio. This is where the audience can congregate in the interval. The outdoor roof terraces provide an attractive view that allows you to see the city in a different perspective.

In the outer walls you can see beams in the brickwork. These absorb the load from the sunroof ('wings'). They reduce the weight of the walls and allow for structural optimization. The high wall hides the theatre's mechanisms and technical equipment. The Shakespearean Theatre is an example of new architecture that is closely interwoven with tradition.

The brick, Morvan, is unicoloured anthracite black and fits very well into the concept of the project. Brick is a natural product and sustainable during all phases of its life cycle. Bricks are made up of a combination of natural elements, i.e. clay, sand, water, air and fire.

More information about: Vandersanden - Morvan


Events in the spotlight

BAU Congress China: Strategies for China's cities

BAU Congress China is an annual congress with an accompanying exhibition that takes place at the China National Convention Centre (CNCC) in Beijing. This event focuses on high-quality design, planning, and construction. It is a high-quality, business-focused, and industry-wide platform that provides real solutions and inspiration to global and local industry professionals in an international setting, tailored to the specific needs of the Chinese market.

The third BAU Congress China will take place from July 4 to 6, 2016. For the first time, due to its popularity, the BAU Congress China 2016 will take place in the halls of the China National Convention Center (CNCC) in Beijing over the course of three days.

BAU Congress China 2016 focuses on three different themes: the first day of the congress concen-trates on “Urban strategies”, while on the second day “Project development and implementation” is the midpoint of the lectures, and the last day emphasizes “Smart building technology”. The congress seeks to identify the specific challenges facing urban planners and developers in China, and how sustainable concepts can be implemented.

The speakers are well-known planners and architects from China and Europe. Using best practice examples, they set out their ideas for the Chinese city of the future.

The exhibition emphasizes outstanding building products, materials, and services in conjunction with structured, long-term, and sustainable urban development. BAU Congress China provides a complete overview of the market—it showcases product innovations and reveals specific opportunities for the industry. As an efficient communication, networking, and information platform, it promotes business exchange between manufacturers and project developers, architects, planners, and distributors.

Find out more about BAU Congress China.
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Project Lebanon - BIEL, Beirut from May 31 to June 3 2016

Following more than two decades of unrivaled success, Project Lebanon evolved into one of the most specialized trade shows in its field, and the main business gateway for local and international firms to access the region’s construction market. This year, the 21st International Trade Exhibition for Construction Materials and Equipment for Lebanon and the Middle East, will be held in BIEL – Beirut from May 31 to June 3, concurrently with Energy Lebanon 2016, the 6th International Trade Exhibition for Power, Electrical Engineering, Alternative Energy, Lighting, HVAC, Water & Environmental Technologies.

Establishing itself as the focal point of growth for the construction business in Lebanon and the region, Project Lebanon welcomes nearly 500 global firms from over 20 countries, in addition to more than 20,000 visitors. The participation of national pavilions form France, Italy, and Luxembourg among others, as well as the attendance of international public figures, diplomats, and high-ranking government officials merely affirms the global and local success and effectiveness of the exhibition. Building on this triumph, Project Lebanon 2016 will set yet another new benchmark for all construction trade fairs in the region.

This year, and after its immense success in 2015, the Live Demonstration Theater will be a major highlight for Project Lebanon 2016. Optimizing the trade show experience, the Live Theater is the perfect platform for exhibitors to showcase or launch their products and services to an eager and interested audience. It is a unique opportunity to build your network, engage with visitors, and demonstrate the value and effectiveness of your products.

Moreover, a specialized conference-style presentation dedicated to waste management and renewable energy has been added to Project Lebanon 2016. The discussion, open to all Project Lebanon’s attendees and private invitations, will particularly focus on four topics: recycling, waste incineration, waste-to-energy, and composting. Professional speakers including ministers, mayors, CEOs, and EU representatives will present their ideas, solutions, and services concerning the waste management crisis in Lebanon.

Another major highlight at the show is the Innovation Pavilion. In collaboration with engineering and architecture faculties from across Lebanon, Project Lebanon will offer young and talented Lebanese students a unique platform to present their innovative ideas, and carry their projects to fruition in the presence of the industry’s leaders and decision-makers. Build opportunities in the local and regional markets

For more information please visit us on

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Global Property Market - June 1-2, 2016 - Javits Center, New York City, USA

Global Property Market will be held in New York City on June 1-2, 2016. The conference will bring together the world’s real estate community to examine and discuss the pertinent trends related to international commercial real estate investment and development. The program will include 30+ panel sessions with the chance to hear first-hand from 100+ leading speakers, including Dr. Fareed Zakaria from CNN. Participants will have access to an anticipated 2,000 C-Level executives from global commercial real estate and investment companies over a two-day period.

The conference will provide a targeted opportunity for networking and strategic information gathering on the top 30 markets for global investment, capital flows into and out of North America, development activity in tier one countries as well as an expert look at growing and emerging markets.

Participants will have access to the largest network of global real estate and investment professionals, including institutional investors, developers, government and investment authorities, leading architects, designers, consultants and all senior professionals involved in the real estate industry. With investment activity at record levels, the timing and location of this conference is ideal for face-to-face deal making, business development, relationship building and market education.

Pour plus d’informations:

Competitions in the spotlight

Archi-World® Academy 2015 - 2017 - III edition

After the great success of the first two editions 2011/1013 and 2013/2015 with the active participation of 24 world renowned architects as jury members, we are now launching Archi-World® Academy Awards 3.

We have the pleasure to present to you the jury members of the 2015 - 2017 edition: Sergey Romanov, Rudy Ricciotti, JKMM Architects, COOP HIMMELB(L)AU, Poponcini & Lootens, Labics, Guz Architects, SBA Architects, Grafton Architects, CHIASMUS, Ercan Çoban Architects, Emilio Ambasz and Associates

This third edition of the Archi-World Academy Awards will again involve students in architecture and architecture schools from all over the world and give to 12 winning students a fantastic opportunity to win a prestigious traineeship in top architecture practices which will definetely boost their carreer !

Challenge us with your best projects in a new topic "Responsible Future Architecture".

Registration is open:

More information:

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Piscine Global and Archi-Europe have the pleasure of launching the third edition of the international award for Pool architecture: Pool Vision. The competition is divided into three geographical zones: Piscine Global, Piscine Middle East and Piscine Asia

CATEGORIES for Piscine Global:
• The most beautiful residential pool
• The most beautiful tourism and leisure pool
• The most beautiful public pool
• The most beautiful renovated pool
• The most innovative pool

CATEGORIES for Piscine Middle East and Asia:
• The most beautiful residential pool
• The most beautiful tourism and leisure pool
• The most innovative pool

Principle and aim:
Pool Vision 2016 will select and award prizes to outstanding swimming pool projects from around the world, judging them from the technical and aesthetic standpoints, water treatment, coverings, accessories, spas, etc..

Registration deadline:

Pool Vision Asian: 16/05/2016
Pool Vision Global: 17/06/2016

Register here:

More about Pool Vision 2016:

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The Bauhaus #itsalldesign
(1/04 - 14/08/2016) - Bonn Bundeskunsthalle (DE)
Philippe Halsman 'Astonish Me'
(27/02 - 12/06/2016) - Rotterdam Kunsthal (NL)
Frantz Joseph. Man & Monarch
(16/03 - 27/11/2016) - Vienna Schönbrunn Palace(AT)
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Gurroo A New Generation of Innovative Minds
Deadline: 31/05/2016

PARIS PAVILION : The Art of Peace
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Histoire de la photographie d'architecture
Giovanni Fanelli

Presses Polytechniques et Universitaires Romandes
€ 66.00
472 pages
ISBN 9782889151615

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Building Berlin - Volume 5
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Infinite Space
Contemporary Residential Architecture and Interiors Photographed by James Silverman
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© 2016 Archi-Europe
Responsible Editor: Jacques Allard
Chief Editor: Marie-Claire Regniers

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