Alejandro Aravena won in 2016 the Pritzker Architecture Prize. The architect, in collaboration with his team,” Elemental,” fosters an architecture thought from the collective thinking that aims to solve some of the actual dilemmas of contemporary urbanism, such as inequality. These attractive ideas are well explained in this TED Talk video
Collective thinking VS inequality
In contrast with these ideal principles, Fabian Barros, a Chilean researcher based in the University of Madrid (ETSAM) and member of the research group ARKRIT, shares with us a fascinating article:
“LA DESIGUALDAD ES ELEMENTAL. Conjeturas ideológicas para una crítica a Quinta Monroy”
“ELEMENTAL INEQUALITY. Ideological conjectures for criticism of Quinta Monroy” (trad. a.))
In this article, he informs us a little bit more about the Chilean reality and expresses his opinion about the repercussions of Aravena’s architecture. This article raises some doubts about how this poverty-stricken neighborhood designed by Aravena enhances an inclusive city.
[…] we are dealing with a project that paradoxically reproduces what it tries to combat, produces inequality by considering the inhabitants of these houses beings of another social class […].
– Fabian Barros
Probably, not only the design and cost strategies matter but also the location and the concentration of this kind of social housing. Do these families have the same opportunities as the rest of the population in terms of accessibility? Accessibility to better education, public services, transportation, better jobs. Should the public entities spread and integrate the social housing, instead of gathering the neediest in a specific neighborhood? At first glance, diversification seems a more inclusive strategy than grouping.
It could be found very appealing, “in the eyes of the first world”, the look of the unfinished houses in Quinta Monroy, -people would be able to expand their homes freely- we could think. But would the bigger issues inside the slum be about expansion problems or freedom in the design? Slums are inherently flexible in terms of shape and program, but we should not forget one of the main questions:
Is it desirable for anyone to live in a slum?