Venice Architecture Biennale opens

When architects let residents build their own homes
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“Reporting from the Front,” reads the slogan on the cover of the promotional brochure for the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, organised by the Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena and “Sponsored by Rolex”. Obviously that is a cheap shot, but it says something about the kind of event this biennial may turn out to be. Over the past decade, Aravena has become the poster boy for an apparently new form of social architecture. A series of social housing programmes designed by Aravena and his firm Elemental (notably the Quinta Monroy and Villa Verde projects in Chile and the Monterrey development in Mexico) have been extensively photographed and described in a way that never happens with the more mundane, standardised social housing built routinely in Venezuela, Brazil and Bolivia over the past decade or so.  Continues at