Elemental by Alejandro Aravena

Yesterday we saw how the interiors of a Mies van der Rohe project have evolved to reflect the values of the inhabitants. Not exactly groundbreaking since we all modify the space around us to make ourselves more comfortable; even prisoners put up posters. But what if a building were designed to adapt on a larger scale? You’d get something like the Quinta Monroy housing project by Alejandro Aravena.

Folks who live in Elemental Housing start with space enclosed by cinder block and add to that space within exterior voids: half the house is formally arranged (“the difficult parts”) and the second half is left up to the owners. In the photos above, you can see what happens when these voids are filled: the project looses precious distance from humans and takes on the texture and density of vibrant, low-rise housing block. The project is currently on view at MOMA as part of the exhibition Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement.


October 19, 2010