In icons

In Icons

Today, iconicity lacks an overarching urban perspective. As opposed to historical precedents whereby heroic housing projects became landmarks, today with housing being a commodity, iconicity is a real-estate branding device that has permeated all housing scales.

The need to be distinguished becomes particularly paradoxical in examples such as the Chilean model housing compounds, whereby the idea of having one’s own uniquely-styled house , is translated into the actuality of a choice among three or four. Some more generous iconic examples provide idiosyncratic shapes that result in unexpected urban connections or plazas.

Overall, it seems that the higher-end housing projects tend to be more iconic than the lower-end ones. Iconicity seems to visually exacerbate urban segregation. Yet, iconicity may well be revisited. Rethinking housing as iconic urban visual statements could generate new morphologies that reorganize the city.

Design Operations


These projects explore the ways in which housing may become an urban integrator. In each case, the life of the building is exposed connecting views from within and without at a scale larger than that of the unit, animating its urban context.

Project Descriptions

4- Facades / “Elevator Ring” – Shanghai

The detached tower is transformed by an external elevator ring which displays the vertical movement, events, exhibitions, and communal activities of the building.

The fragmentation of the ring can simultaneously feature a variety of activities on the facade. As a result, various tower configurations animate the urban scene depending on daily or yearly events.

Original Project: 21st Century Mansion be Yabu Pushelberg and Gensler Architects, Shanghai

5- Views /  “High Rise Patios” – Santiago

A singular perforation is transformed and repeated throughout the highrise slab, creating vertical patios in a dense urban environment.

The large scale opening becomes an urban feature recognisable from afar and provides a system of viewing platforms and outdoor activity spaces for the residents.

Original Project: Torres de Tajamar by Luis Prieto Vial and BVCH, Santiago