Alejandro Aravena The Forces in Architecture
2011 5.13-2011 7.9

The Forces in Architecture

What informs the form of a project?

We spend a lot of time identifying and designing the right question (not just the answer) that a project is expected to solve (there is nothing worse than responding well to the wrong question).

In a projectÕs equation, there are some terms that are unavoidable. Like gravity or nature. Gravity itÕs a fact and as a consequence our projectsÕ weight. Nature works with different magnitudes and as a consequence we try not to loose the big picture in our projects. Both of them introduce atavistic, primitive forces that impose a certain discipline to forms. They work as filters against arbitrariness. We like that.

But even if counterintuitive, there are other forces in architecture that are much stronger and it is better to agree with them. One of those forces is the strength of daily customs and everyday life – the search for the shortest distance across a field that a shortcut offers, the search for a nice morning light for a bedroom or the possibility to darken it at night, the proliferation of curtains that try to reduce undesired glare in curtain-wall office spaces that may be too modern for eyes that haven’t changed in millenniums – are traces of the force of customs.

All these forces should inform the form of architecture (and if not taken into consideration, they transform it anyhow). This exhibition documents these forces in play.

Alejandro Aravena

Based in Santiago, Chile, Aravena is involved in a wide range of architectural activities, including designs for museums, private residences, and housing complexes. Among his most important works are Siamese Towers (2005), an IT center at the Catholic University of Chile, various other facilities on the school's campus, and Children's Workshop Vitra (proposal; Weil am Rhein, Germany). In addition, Aravena has established a company called Elemental in collaboration with the Catholic University and COPEC (a Chilean oil company), and serves as its director. Described as a "do tank" rather than a "think tank," Elemental deals with a variety of issues related to policy, finance, the environment, and climate problems while engaging in social activities through the proposal and practice of architecture. For example, by helping to implement a social housing policy that allows residents to modify their dwellings, Elemental has increased the property value of public housing facilities, demonstrating the tremendous value and influence that design can have on society.

Though still only in his 40s, Aravena has held prestigious posts such as visiting professor at Harvard University and jury member for the Pritzker Prize. He has also attained international acclaim by winning numerous awards both in Chile and in many other countries.

In this exhibition, Aravena's first solo show in Japan, we present a symbolic display of his design process, in which he incorporates various types of power and arrives at a form. In the exhibit of architectural models, we examine the balance between gravity, tension, and magnetism, and with the balloons that rise up to a temporary outdoor ceiling, we explore the antagonistic relationship between gravity and buoyancy. Visitors will also have an opportunity to experience Chairless (Vitra), an extremely simple design project concerned with the act of sitting. We hope that you will join us for this introduction to the work of Alejandro Aravena, an architect who makes use of a variety of elements to provide us with optimal solutions in this time of great difficulty in the world.

The third anniversary special article
(Vol.36 2011.9.29)

Alejandro Aravena The Forces in Architecture


Closed on Sun., Mon. and National Holidays

Admission FREE


Quinta Monroy Housing
(Iquique, Chile/ 2004)
©Tadeuz Jalocha

School of Architecture
(The Catholic University of Chile, Santiago, Chile/ 2004)
©Tadeuz Jalocha

Medical School
(The Catholic University of Chile, Santiago, Chile/ 2004)
©Roland Halbe

Siamese Towers
(The Catholic University of Chile, Santiago, Chile/ 2005)
©Víctor Oddó

Saint Edward's University Dorms
(Austin, Texas, USA/ 2008)
©Michael Hsu

Photo:Nicole Bachmann
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