Alejandro Aravena graduated in Architecture from Universidad Católica de Chile in 1992. In 1991, still as a student, he participated at the Venice Prize of the 5th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia. In 1993 he studied History and Theory at IUAV and engraving at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia.
He established Alejandro Aravena Architects in 1994. From 2000 to 2005 he was professor at Harvard University, where the path to the foundation of ELEMENTAL started.
ELEMENTAL is a Do Tank founded in 2001, led by Alejandro Aravena and composed by Gonzalo Arteaga, Juan Cerda, Victor Oddó and Diego Torres. The studio works on projects of public interest and social impact, including housing, public space, infrastructure and transportation.
Alejandro Aravena was member of the Pritzker Prize Jury (2009-2015). He was named Honorary RIBA International Fellow (2009) and Board Member of the Cities Program of the LSE (2011). He is also Regional Advisory Board Member of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies; Board Member of the Swiss Holcim Foundation; Foundational Member of the Chilean Public Policies Society. He led the Helsinki Design Lab for SITRA (Finnish Government Innovation Fund) to design a national strategy towards carbon neutrality.
He was one of the 100 personalities contributing to the Rio +20 Global Summit in 2012, and participated to conferences worldwide, including a Pritzkers Laureate’s Conversation in the New York UN Headquarter: Challenges Ahead for the Built Environment (2016), and a TED Global talk in Rio de Janeiro: My architectural philosophy? Bring the community into the process (2014).
Author of Los Hechos de la Arquitectura (Architectural Facts, Santiago, 1999), El Lugar de la Arquitectura (The Place in/of Architecture, Santiago, 2002) and Material de Arquitectura (Architecture Matters, Santiago, 2003), Electa published the monography Alejandro Aravena; progettare e costruire (Milan, 2007) and Toto published Alejandro Aravena; the Forces in Architecture (Tokyo, 2011). In 2011, ELEMENTAL
Incremental Housing and Participatory Design Manual by Hatje-Cantz, and in 2018, the monograph ELEMENTAL by Phaidon.
Elemental’s work has been exhibited at different venues from MoMA in 2010 (Small Scale, Big Change) to the Venice Architecture Biennale (2008, 2012, 2018) among others. We actually curated the XV Venice Biennale in 2016. A solo retrospective has recently opened at the Louisiana Art Museum in Denmark in October 2018. Elemental´s work is also part of the permanent collection of Centre Pompidou.
Elemental’s work has been recognized through many awards: the Silver Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2008, the Index Award in 2011 in Copenhagen, the Design of the Year for the Angelini Innovation Center in 2015 in London and the Gothenburg Award for sustainability in 2017 (first time awarded to an architect). In 2016 Alejandro Aravena was awarded the Pritzker Prize.