The architect Alejandro Aravena and the 2016 Pritzker Prize
The most recent news about the architect Alejandro Aravena winning the Pritzker Prize has brought out some criticism.
The commentaries were made regarding the following two points of view: the first one, Aravena is not a true architect but an activist and second the second one, him ending up to win the prize was wrong because Aravena was a member of the Pritzker award jury for no less than 7 years.
The most vocal of the contestants was Patrick Schumacher, a parametricism prognosticator and a member of Zaha Hadid Architects. In his reaction to the news, Schumacher stated that the award is part of a larger tendency in the present-day architecture, which reveals a lack of confidence, courage, and vitality about the discipline’s improvements to the world, and indicates the presence of bad conscience and unfortunate confusion.
Even though nobody is convinced what Schumacher means to imply about this problem, he has strenuously and continuously argued that only parametricism, the only path he favors, is relevant in any kind of architecture situation. Many would disagree, despite the fact that Zaha Hadid, Hon. FAIA (Honorary Fellowship of the American Institute of Architects) and her firm have designed a certain number of beautiful buildings, for which, in 2004, she won the Pritzker award, before plenty of them were built.
The much deeper interpretation that Aravena is only an activist and not a genuine architect overlooks a series of work that gets beyond the improvements to the social housing and his actions demanding a new insight of architecture as a stimulant for social change also and not only for better living conditions. You may not have seen his buildings in person, but they sure do look impressive in photographs, many specialists raving about their formal resolution, responses to both program and context and special qualities.
The Pritzker judges are, in many ways, moderate, which means that they search for people who give constructions that amazing material, spatial and contextual aspects, and not because of what ideas they may represent. They reward not some experiments but an assemblage of masterpieces. Of course, maybe there should be an award for experiments as well, although Schumacher would have a tough time winning it because he has a rather old-fashioned judgment regarding the computer-driven design saving grace.
The most difficult question to answer is the one of insider dealing. The problem is the non-existence of too many architects that could innovate the world in an aesthetic or social way through good constructions. Just like in any other craft, the system is furnished, or at least there are many who believe so, and the central boy’s business center is a locked one. This could be true, but on the other side, there is so much access to information throughout the social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, that the efficiency of finding good work anywhere in the world has risen incredibly high.