Elemental has won the Brit Insurance Architecture Award 2010, beating the likes of David Chipperfield, Tony Fretton, Herzog & de Meuron and Zaha Hadid.
An international ‘do-tank’ based in Chile, Elemental focuses on finding solutions to the challenge of housing the world’s ever-increasing population. In the Chilean city of Iquique, Elemental was asked to settle a city-centre community of long-term squatters on a very limited budget. Their response, Quinta Monroy, was a development of half finished prefabricated structures, designed to facilitate self-build expansion by a further 50 per cent at minimal cost.
Their later project in Monterrey, Mexico further refined the ‘half-house’ concept, providing a continuous roof over the entire structure and bringing communal green areas around the development as close as possible to the houses, thus creating favourable conditions for maintenance and care. Unlike most private property, the value of social housing often decreases over time; Elemental’s half-house solutions have been shown to rise in value as the self-build expansions are created. The organisation hopes their housing solution provides longevity as well as encouraging authorities to see social housing as an investment, not an expense.