Get Free Housing Designs From A Pritzker Prize-Winning Architect

Alejandro Aravena released four housing plans online in the hopes of making well-designed, low-cost housing more accessible.

Befitting its reputation for socially driven architecture, Elemental—the Santiago, Chile–based firm of this year’s Pritzker Prize laureate, Alejandro Aravena—has made plans for four of its low-cost housing designs free to the public.


In doing so, the firm is making good on its mission to use architecture to solve the global housing and rapid-urbanization crisis by making its work more accessible.

Quinta Monroy

Elemental’s “Incremental Housing” plans are based on the notion that people can easily and affordably build a structure and adapt it to their needs over time. The firm explains:

Out of the 3 billion people living in cities today, 1 billion are under the line of poverty. By 2030, out of the 5 billion people that will be living in cities, 2 billion are going to be under the line of poverty…Given the magnitude of the housing shortage, we won’t solve this problem unless we add people’s own resources and building capacity to that of governments and market. That is why we thought of putting in place an OPEN SYSTEM able to channel all the available forces at play. In that way people will be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

The downloads include drawings, sections, elevations, site plans, and details of four of the firm’s projects, including Quinta Monroy, Lo Barnechea, Monterrey, and Villa Verde.

Elemental hopes that by putting tried-and-tested plans online, it will remove the potentially burdensome hurdle of design for governments. Instead of reinventing the wheel and spending money on research and development of housing concepts, they can start with Elemental’s plans and modify them for local building codes and specific needs.

Making its “open system” open source is a laudable move. Download the files here.

All Photos: via Elemental


About the author

Diana Budds is a New York–based writer covering design and the built environment.