Aravena, the first winner from Chile, will be in the company of famous heads such as Frank Gehry and I.M. Pei. Anyone vaguely interested in architecture will pair these names with their best-known works. Gehry for the Bilbao Guggenheim and I.M. Pei for the landmark glass Louvre Pyramid in Paris.
What is also surprising is that the prize has been awarded for social housing and meeting this need has been identified as one of the key challenges of the 21st century.
Architecture should not be reserved for a lofty elite
but for all of us, down to the most disenfranchised.
Thomas J. Pritzker, Chairman and CEO of The Pritzker Organization, was enthusiastic stating that, “(Alejandro’s) built work gives economic opportunity to the less privileged, mitigates the effects of natural disasters, reduces energy consumption, and provides welcoming public space. Innovative and inspiring, he shows how architecture at its best can improve people’s lives,” .
Closer to home, news that the Sirius Building in Millers Point has had a heritage classification challenges preconceptions about ‘capital A’ architecture. The light has been shone on the social and historical importance of the Sirius Building which was purpose built for the elderly by what was then the Housing Commission.
The architect of the Sirius building, Tao Gofers, now Chair of Urban Planning and Policy at University of Sydney has spoken recently of how the project of broke new ground with the design process. Innovative at the time, and unfortunately still a novel experience today, the people who were going to use the building, represented by the local Resident Action Group, had input into the design.