June 2, 2017 - Harvard University Graduate School of Design - Samuel Bravo wins Harvard GSD’s 2017 Wheelwright Prize
e-flux Architecture
June 2, 2017
June 2, 2017

Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Samuel Bravo.

Samuel Bravo wins Harvard GSD’s 2017 Wheelwright Prize

Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / #WheelwrightPrize

Samuel Bravo wins Harvard GSD’s 2017 Wheelwright Prize

Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / #WheelwrightPrize

Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) is pleased to name Chilean architect Samuel Bravo the winner of the 2017 Wheelwright Prize, a 100,000 USD grant to support investigative approaches to contemporary design. His research proposal, Projectless: Architecture of Informal Settlements, focuses on traditional architectures and informal settlements, revisiting the subject of “architecture without architects” as articulated by Bernard Rudofsky in the landmark 1964 Museum of Modern Art exhibition. Bravo plans to visit dozens of sites in South America, Asia, and Africa, with the goal of developing strategies to integrate vernacular, collective practices with the modern architectural project.

Bravo was among four finalists selected from more than 200 applicants in over 45 countries. A graduate of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (BArch 2009), he leads his own practice and has realized a variety of projects in South America. His past work includes organizing community-based rebuilding in earthquake-damaged Tarapacá, Chile; designing and building a lodge/shamanic center and school for the Shipibo people of the Amazonian rain forest in Peru (a collaboration with architect Sandra Iturriaga); and several private residential commissions. He was also a finalist in the 2016 Wheelwright Prize competition.

Bravo’s Wheelwright proposal Projectless begins by acknowledging that formal architecture addresses a minority of the world’s population, while the vast majority lives in informally built dwellings. Rudofsky characterized the projects in his 1964 exhibition as “not produced by the specialist but by the spontaneous and continuing activity of a whole people with a common heritage, acting under a community of experience.” Bravo extends this notion to his study of the traditions and methods that enable formal architecture to operate “within the paradigm of projectless environments,” sensitive to the potential “cultural frictions” associated with restructuring problematic settlements. 

Bravo’s travels will begin in the Amazon basin, home to 400 ethnic groups including some still-isolated tribes, and continue to the Amazon flatlands, where he will visit dozens of settlements, large and small, from Peru to Colombia to Brazil. He will continue to Africa, where urban centers (such as Lagos, Nigeria) are experiencing extreme population growth. In Asia, he plans to visit Bangladesh, Nepal, and India, where he has identified a range of case studies, from traditional villages to global slums. As with past Wheelwright winners, the 100,000 USD prize is intended to fund two years of Bravo’s research travel.

Bravo follows 2016 winner Anna Puigjaner, whose project Kitchenless City: Architectural Systems for Social Welfare has involved site visits in Senegal, Malaysia, Thailand, and Mexico, with Canada, Russia, Japan, Peru, and elsewhere on her forthcoming itinerary.

Now in its fifth year as an open international competition, the Wheelwright Prize supports travel-based research initiatives proposed by extraordinary early-career architects. Previous winners have circled the globe, pursuing inquiries into a broad range of social, cultural, environmental, and technological issues. The Wheelwright Prize originated in 1935 as the Arthur C. Wheelwright Traveling Fellowship. In 2013 Harvard GSD relaunched the prize as an open international competition, available to candidates who received an architecture degree in the previous 15 years.

The 2017 Wheelwright Prize jury consisted of Gordon Gill, Mariana Ibañez, Gia Wolff, and standing Wheelwright Prize Committee members Mohsen Mostafavi and K. Michael Hays. (For extended biographies, visit wheelwrightprize.org.)


2017 Wheelwright Prize Finalists
The Wheelwright Prize jury commends the 2017 finalists for their outstanding applications:

Lucia Cella — STUDIO CELLA, Posadas, Misiones, Argentina
Lucia Cella received a degree in architecture from the University of Buenos Aires, and attended the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella’s Architecture and Technology Program in Buenos Aires, where she was awarded a scholarship to attend the master’s program in architectural design at the University of Navarra in Spain. She worked briefly in Barcelona before returning to her hometown, Posadas, to work in the firm STUDIO CELLA, led by her father, architect Daniel Cella, and Pedro Peralta. She has worked on numerous award-winning projects, including the Santa Ana Chapel in De la Cruz Park (2014) and the Aristobulo del Valle Town Hall (in construction), both in Misiones, Argentina. She is an associate professor of architecture at the Catholic University of Santa Fe in Posadas. 

Wheelwright proposal: The Profoundness of the Façade: A Space Between Spaces

Andjela Karabašević — AKVS, Belgrade, Serbia
Anđela Karabašević is the cofounder, with Vladislav Sudžum, of the Belgrade-based AKVS architectural studio. Karabašević trained in mathematics before graduating with a degree in architecture from the University of Belgrade, where she is currently pursuing a PhD. AKVS is a multidisciplinary research-oriented design practice, dedicated to understanding atmospheric phenomena that determine human experience of space. The studio placed second in the Kamendin Social Housing competition in Belgrade (2015), earned a Special Mention in the international D3 Housing Tomorrow Competition (2013), and placed in a national competition for the RTS Memorial in Belgrade (2013). Karabašević’s research has been published in a number of scholarly journals. 

Wheelwright proposal: Unsettled Air: Atmospheric Dimensions of Architecture

Farzin Lotfi-Jam — farzinfarzin, New York, New York, United States
Farzin Lotfi-Jam is the principal of farzinfarzin, a multidisciplinary studio that designs spaces, software, and media. He holds advanced degrees from RMIT University in Melbourne and Columbia University GSAPP, where he currently teaches. He is a Fellow of the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart and was previously a Sanders Fellow at the University of Michigan. His award-winning work has been exhibited at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Oslo Architecture Triennale, and Venice Architecture Biennale, and is included in the permanent collection of the Centre Georges Pompidou.  

Wheelwright proposal: Planetary Computation: Understanding the Smart City


The full winner’s brochure, which includes jury comments and the winner’s portfolio, may be downloaded from wheelwrightprize.org. Applications for the 2018 Wheelwright Prize will be accepted in Fall 2017.

Email: info [​at​] wheelwrightprize.org                  

Harvard University Graduate School of Design
Share - Samuel Bravo wins Harvard GSD’s 2017 Wheelwright Prize
  • Share