Acute Originality

architects Sebastián Irarrázaval Arquitectos
project Knjižnica Constitución, Constitución, Chile
written by Fabrizio Gallanti


The surge of international attention surrounding contemporary Chilean architecture has often been fuelled by a highly sophisticated stock of designs for the private sector. If one analysed the most recurrent typologies published in magazines or web-sites, holiday houses, weekend retreats or breathtaking hotels, juxtaposed with the wild scenery of the Chilean landscape, would constitute the majority of what is selected. Parallel to this production, which corresponds to the demands of an expanding affluent middle class, is the creation of service facilities, housing and infrastructure, a lesser known part of the architecture conceived and executed in Chile today that has been engaged as a means to alleviate the profound social and economic inequality that still characterizes the country. The provision is generated under the control of the public sector, although often in joint partnership with companies and foundations. Architects have responded to this dual condition pursuing specialization while the market takes advantage of the skills of designers, who although proficient in many building forms, have accumulated significant bodies of work around limited themes as a consequence of a steady flow of commissions.