The “Nobel Prize for Architecture” Took Place at the UN Headquarters

“The battle for sustainable development will be won or lost in cities” (Kofi Annan)

April 08th, 2016

According to Kofi Annan, who served as Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1997 to December 2006, “The battle for sustainable development will be won or lost in cities”.

Cities generate about 80 per cent of global GDP and almost 60 per cent of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2030. Furthermore, the International Organization for Migration estimated that urban migration should be an issue at the frontline of urban planning and sustainable development.

Taking it into account, the post-2015 Development Agenda, a process led by the United Nations to establish the future development goals, reaffirmed the key role of architecture in promoting inclusive, resilient and sustainable cities as an asset tool for reducing poverty and inequality.

The “Nobel Prize for Architecture”, also known as the Pritzker award ceremony, took place on 4th April at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The 2016 Prize has been awarded to Alejandro Aravena.

Alejandro Aravena was born in Chile in 1967 and he has lived his entire life in Santiago, growing up in the 1970s and 1980s under the Pinochet regime. Alejandro designed social housing in Chile and Mexico; “social houses” are affordable houses created in order to serve social and humanitarian needs and to help lower income communities. The Pritzker jury said that Alejandro’s work "shows how the best architecture makes people's lives better" and commended Aravena for his “holistic understanding of the built environment and […] the ability to connect social responsibility, economic demands, design of human habitat and the city.”

On receiving the prize, Aravena affirmed that “By 2030, we will have more than five billion people living in cities and two billion of them are going to be under the poverty line. The architect also added that the scarcest resource in cities is not money, but coordination. In order to reduce poverty and to provide a better environment “we [must] use peoples' own capacity, ideas and resources and we need to create open systems that can include people’s own capacity to add value to their living conditions and opportunities.”

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Cultural Diplomacy News
Giulia Ciccarese