LdM ALUMNI SUCCESS STORY

Andrea Gonzales, LdM alumna
in the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale

Andrea’s semester abroad in Florence with LdM really came in handy, when she was hired to work with a Chilean architecture firm to reconstruct a submission for this year’s Venice Biennale. Language skills and familiarity with Italy benefitted Andrea when she returned to Italy to create Pedro’s Lookout, a famous Lookout that was originally built in Chile.

“This year, Grupo Talca was invited by the Pritzker prize winner, Alejandro Aravena, to participate in the Venice Biennale (architecture). I was lucky enough to be a part of this project, and I must say that studying at LdM and learning Italian really benefited my experience.

The project we decided to construct for the Biennale is the wooden lookout by dismantling it and re-building it in Venice, the same one that was built 10 years ago at the top of a mountain next to the Villarrica volcano in the south of Chile. The 25 ton cube is a simple structure, however, the real beauty lies in its story.

The lookout was made by the Vasquez family. A family of lumberjacks living in the mountains whose only income at that time, was cutting and selling wood for a very low price. Due to their tough condition, their sons (teenagers at the time), could not picture a future other than leaving to go work in the city or even further, to get a job in the mines in the north of Chile.
After building this lookout, tourists began flooding onto their property to enjoy the beautiful landscape. As time passed, the Vasquez family expanded their business to focus on ecotourism. Now, they no longer cut down trees, instead, they protect their forest and encourage others to do the same.

After 10 years, Pedro, the father of the family, and his brother Carlos, were invited to Italy to reconstruct the lookout in Venice. For the first, and maybe the only, time in their lives, they travelled to Europe and had a chance to experience another part of the world.

I’m honored to have been a part of this project, and to also have had the opportunity to live with this family in the mountains for a while. It was a life changing experience to meet and work with such amazing and hardworking people. I realized how architecture can impact and help others. I also learned that it’s not the material possessions, the latest technology or large amounts of money that change lives, but it’s ideas and passion. And most importantly, I now understand that architecture is just methods and structure, but what makes it special is the people who inhabit it.

Andrea Gonzalez – LdM Alumna, Florence 2013

WHERE YOU CAN SEE PEDRO’S LOOKOUT IN THE BIENNALE:

Pedro’s Lookout has two spaces in the arsenale:
– one in the Corderie, where several videos of the project and a scale model of the viewpiont are displayed,
– and the open area outside the isolotto pavillion where Pedro’s Lookout is exhibited.

ABOUT ANDREA GONZALEZ

Andrea attended LdM during both the Spring 2013 and Fall 2013 semesters, while studying at Instituto Technologico de Estudios superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) in Mexico.
Andrea has shared her experience with the Alumni Network, and she can be contacted via LinkedIn