For the first time since its inception in 1979, the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the industry’s highest honour, has been awarded to three architects.
Spanish architects Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta, pictured from left, got their start 30 years ago in Olot, a small town in the Catalonia region that’s a far cry from the flashier architecture scene in Barcelona, about 70 miles (113 kilometres) away. Pigem and Vilalta are married to each other.
Many media outlets, including The New York Times, say the announcement signals what could be the end of starchitects, those big-name celebrity architects who have won the prize in past years, such as the late Zaha Hadid (2004) and Rem Koolhaas (2000). Pigem becomes the third woman to win the award, joining Hadid and Japan’s Kazuyo Sejima, who shared the award with partner Ryue Nishizawa in 2010.
This marks the second year in a row that the prize has gone to Spanish-speaking architects. Last year, Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena was awarded the prize.
As for their work, the colleagues focus heavily on using the landscape to drive their designs, which often feature recycled steel and plastic. Their structures, most of which are in Spain and France, span a range of functions and include an open-air theatre, a kindergarten, a senior citizens’ centre and library, a museum, a winery, and an outdoor restaurant. “The siting of buildings, the choice of materials and the geometries used are always intended to highlight the natural conditions and pull them into the building,” the jury wrote.
Aranda, Pigem and Vilalta designed the row house shown here to sit between two stone walls.
The home features a single space with floating platforms that create different living levels, such as the dining and kitchen area shown here looking from the living room, with a bedroom above.
The three architects completed their studies together in 1988 at the Vallès School of Architecture. A year later, they founded their firm, RCR Arquitectes, using the initials of their first names.
Since the beginning, their work has been intensely collaborative. “The process they have developed is a true collaboration in which neither a part nor whole of a project can be attributed to one partner,” wrote the nine-member jury in its announcement of the award Wednesday morning. “Their creative approach is a constant intermingling of ideas and continuous dialogue.”
Here, the courtyard of a senior citizens’ centre appears sunken into the surrounding city of Barcelona.
Image from houzz.co.nz