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  • If there's any power in design,

  • that's the power of synthesis.

  • The more complex the problem,

  • the more the need for simplicity.

  • So allow me to share three cases

  • where we tried to apply

  • design's power of synthesis.

  • Let's start with the global challenge of urbanization.

  • It's a fact that people are moving towards cities.

  • and even if counterintuitive, it's good news.

  • Evidence shows that people are better off in cities.

  • But there's a problem that I would call

  • the "3S" menace:

  • The scale, speed, and scarcity of means

  • with which we will have to respond to this phenomenon

  • has no precedence in history.

  • For you to have an idea,

  • out of the three billion people living in cities today,

  • one billion are under the line of poverty.

  • By 2030, out of the five billion people

  • that will be living in cities,

  • two billion are going to be under the line of poverty.

  • That means that we will have to build

  • a one million-person city per week

  • with 10,000 dollars per family

  • during the next 15 years.

  • A one million-person city per week

  • with 10,000 dollars per family.

  • If we don't solve this equation,

  • it is not that people will stop coming to cities.

  • They will come anyhow,

  • but they will live in slums, favelas

  • and informal settlements.

  • So what to do? Well, an answer may come

  • from favelas and slums themselves.

  • A clue could be in this question we were asked

  • 10 years ago.

  • We were asked to accommodate 100 families

  • that had been occupying illegally

  • half a hectare in the center

  • of the city of Iquique in the north of Chile

  • using a $10,000 subsidy

  • with which we had to buy the land,

  • provide the infrastructure,

  • and build the houses that, in the best of the cases,

  • would be of around 40 square meters.

  • And by the way, they said,

  • the cost of the land,

  • because it's in the center of the city,

  • is three times more

  • than what social housing can normally afford.

  • Due to the difficulty of the question,

  • we decided to include the families

  • in the process of understanding the constraints,

  • and we started a participatory design process,

  • and testing what was available there in the market.

  • Detached houses,

  • 30 families could be accommodated.

  • Row houses, 60 families.

  • ["100 families"] The only way to accommodate all of them

  • was by building in height,

  • and they threatened us

  • to go on a hunger strike

  • if we even dared to offer this

  • as a solution,

  • because they could not make the tiny apartments

  • expand.

  • So the conclusion with the families

  • and this is important, not our conclusion

  • with the families, was that we had a problem.

  • We had to innovate.

  • So what did we do?

  • Well, a middle-class family

  • lives reasonably well

  • in around 80 square meters,

  • but when there's no money,

  • what the market does

  • is to reduce the size of the house

  • to 40 square meters.

  • What we said was,

  • what if,

  • instead of thinking of 40 square meters

  • as a small house,

  • why don't we consider it

  • half of a good one?

  • When you rephrase the problem

  • as half of a good house

  • instead of a small one,

  • the key question is, which half do we do?

  • And we thought we had to do with public money

  • the half that families won't be able to do individually.

  • We identified five design conditions

  • that belonged to the hard half of a house,

  • and we went back to the families to do two things:

  • join forces and split tasks.

  • Our design was something in between

  • a building and a house.

  • As a building, it could pay

  • for expensive, well-located land,

  • and as a house, it could expand.

  • If, in the process of not being expelled

  • to the periphery while getting a house,

  • families kept their network and their jobs,

  • we knew that the expansion would begin right away.

  • So we went from this initial social housing

  • to a middle-class unit achieved by families themselves

  • within a couple of weeks.

  • This was our first project

  • in Iquique 10 years ago.

  • This is our last project in Chile.

  • Different designs, same principle:

  • You provide the frame,

  • and from then on, families take over.

  • So the purpose of design,

  • trying to understand and trying to give an answer

  • to the "3S" menace,

  • scale, speed, and scarcity,

  • is to channel people's own building capacity.

  • We won't solve the one million people per week equation

  • unless we use people's own power for building.

  • So, with the right design,

  • slums and favelas may not be the problem

  • but actually the only possible solution.

  • The second case is how design can contribute

  • to sustainability.

  • In 2012, we entered the competition

  • for the Angelini Innovation Center,

  • and the aim was to build

  • the right environment for knowledge creation.

  • It is accepted that for such an aim,

  • knowledge creation,

  • interaction among people, face-to-face contact,

  • it's important, and we agreed on that.

  • But for us, the question of the right environment

  • was a very literal question.

  • We wanted to have a working space

  • with the right light, with the right temperature,

  • with the right air.

  • So we asked ourselves:

  • Does the typical office building

  • help us in that sense?

  • Well, how does that building look, typically?

  • It's a collection of floors,

  • one on top of each other,

  • with a core in the center

  • with elevators, stairs, pipes, wires, everything,

  • and then a glass skin on the outside

  • that, due to direct sun radiation,

  • creates a huge greenhouse effect inside.

  • In addition to that, let's say a guy

  • working on the seventh floor

  • goes every single day through the third floor,

  • but has no idea what the guy on that floor

  • is working on.

  • So we thought, well, maybe we have to turn this scheme

  • inside out.

  • And what we did was,

  • let's have an open atrium,

  • a hollowed core,

  • the same collection of floors,

  • but have the walls and the mass in the perimeter,

  • so that when the sun hits,

  • it's not impacting directly glass, but a wall.

  • When you have an open atrium inside,

  • you are able to see what others are doing

  • from within the building, and you have

  • a better way to control light,

  • and when you place the mass and the walls

  • in the perimeter,

  • then you are preventing direct sun radiation.

  • You may also open those windows

  • and get cross-ventilation.

  • We just made those openings

  • of such a scale that they could work

  • as elevated squares,

  • outdoor spaces throughout

  • the entire height of the building.

  • None of this is rocket science.

  • You don't require sophisticated programming.

  • It's not about technology.

  • This is just archaic, primitive common sense,

  • and by using common sense,

  • we went from 120 kilowatts

  • per square meter per year,

  • which is the typical energy consumption

  • for cooling a glass tower,

  • to 40 kilowatts per square meter per year.

  • So with the right design,

  • sustainability is nothing but the rigorous use

  • of common sense.

  • Last case I would like to share is how design

  • can provide more comprehensive answers

  • against natural disasters.

  • You may know that Chile, in 2010,

  • was hit by an 8.8 Richter scale

  • earthquake and tsunami,

  • and we were called to work

  • in the reconstruction of the Constitución,

  • in the southern part of the country.

  • We were given 100 days, three months,

  • to design almost everything,

  • from public buildings to public space,

  • street grid, transportation, housing,

  • and mainly how to protect the city

  • against future tsunamis.

  • This was new in Chilean urban design,

  • and there were in the air a couple of alternatives.

  • First one:

  • Forbid installation on ground zero.

  • Thirty million dollars spent mainly

  • in land expropriation.

  • This is exactly what's being discussed in Japan nowadays,

  • and if you have a disciplined population

  • like the Japanese, this may work,

  • but we know that in Chile,

  • this land is going to be occupied illegally anyhow,

  • so this alternative was unrealistic and undesirable.

  • Second alternative: build a big wall,

  • heavy infrastructure to resist

  • the energy of the waves.

  • This alternative was conveniently lobbied

  • by big building companies,

  • because it meant 42 million dollars in contracts,

  • and was also politically preferred,

  • because it required no land expropriation.

  • But Japan proved that trying to resist

  • the force of nature is useless.

  • So this alternative was irresponsible.

  • As in the housing process,

  • we had to include the community

  • in the way of finding a solution for this,

  • and we started a participatory design process.

  • (Video) [In Spanish] Loudspeaker: What kind of city do you want?

  • Vote for Constitución.

  • Go to the Open House and express your options.

  • Participate!

  • Fisherman: I am a fisherman.

  • Twenty-five fishermen work for me.

  • Where should I take them? To the forest?

  • Man: So why can't we have a concrete defense?

  • Done well, of course.

  • Man 2: I am the history of Constitución.

  • And you come here to tell me that I cannot keep on living here?

  • My whole family has lived here,

  • I raised my children here,

  • and my children will also raise their children here.

  • and my grandchildren and everyone else will.

  • But why are you imposing this on me?

  • You! You are imposing this on me!

  • In danger zone I am not authorized to build.

  • He himself is saying that.

  • Man 3: No, no, no, Nieves...

  • Alejandro Aravena: I don't know if you were able

  • to read the subtitles, but you can tell