Catalan architects Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta of RCR Arquitectes have been selected as the 2017 Pritzker Prize winners, architecture’s highest honour. The ceremony will be taking place in Tokyo, Japan on May 20, 2017.
The Olot-based architects founded their firm together in 1988 with a commitment to contextual and site specific architecture, which essentially won the architects this year’s prize.
“The jury has selected three architects who have been working collaboratively for nearly three decades. Mr. Aranda, Ms. Pigem and Mr. Vilalta have had an impact on the discipline far beyond their immediate area,” said Tom Pritzker, chairman of Hyatt Foundation, which sponsors the award.
“Their work ranges from public and private spaces to cultural venues and educational institutions, and their ability to intensely relate the environment specific to each site is a testament to their process and deep integrity.”
The winner represent the first time that three architects are honoured with the prize together, as well as being the second-time laureates from Spain, the first being Rafael Moneo in 1996.
In response to winning the 39th edition of the Pritzer Prize, Pigem said: “It is a great joy and a a great responsibility. We are thrilled that this year three professionals, who work closely together in everything we do, are recognized.”
The architects’ notable projects include a tinted concrete and steel crematorium in Holsbeek, Belgium; the Les Cols Restaurant Marquee (2011), the Barberí Laboratory (2008) and the Tossols-Basil Athletics Track (2000).
Their other works include the Bell–Lloc Winery in Girona and Sant Antoni – Joan Oliver Library, Senior Citizens Center and Cándida Pérez Gardens in Barcelona, which were both completed in 2007.
Below is a video by the Pritzker Architecture Prize of the three winners discussing their approach to architecture:
In 2013 Mr. Aranda, Ms. Pigem and Mr. Vilalta founded RCR BUNKA Foundation to support architecture, landscape, arts and culture throughout society. They have been consultant architects to the Natural Park of the Volcanic Zone of La Garrotxa since 1989. Much of their work may be seen throughout Catalonia, Spain and greater Europe.
The architects are also known for their extensive use of materials including recycled steel and plastic.
“They’ve demonstrated that unity of a material can lend such incredible strength and simplicity to a building,” said Glen Mercutt, jury chair.
“The collaboration of these architects produces uncompromising architecture of a poetic level, representing timeless work that reflects great respect for the past, while projecting clarity that is of the present and the future.”
The jury added: “We live in a globalized world where we must rely on international influences, trade, discussion, transactions, etc. But more and more people fear that because of this international influence…we will lose our local values, our local art, and our local customs…Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta tell us that it may be possible to have both. They help us to see, in a most beautiful and poetic way, that the answer to the question is not ‘either/or’ and that we can, at least in architecture, aspire to have both; our roots firmly in place and our arms outstretched to the rest of the world.”
Last year’s Pritzer Prize winner was Venice Biennale curator Alejandro Aravena, to which Patrick Schumacher, partner at Zaha Hadid Architects, reacted tom, saying that “the Pritzker Prize has mutated into a prize for humanitarian work”.
Other winners of the prize include Toyo Ito, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and Frei Otto.