2017 Pritzker Prize: awarded for the first time to a trio!


European commemoration of Vieille Montagne: the story continues!

On 1 March, the 39th edition of the prestigious Pritzker prize – the equivalent of the Nobel for architects – was awarded to Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta, a trio of Spanish architects who have been working together since 1988. “Their work demonstrates a flawless commitment to places and their history, and creates spaces that connect with their context” said Tom Pritzker, son of the prize’s founder.

I was delighted when the prize was announced. Firstly, as I had already mentioned in a previous post, these architects work jointly. This trend, which is especially prevalent among the younger generation, began with precursory professionals. So this Pritzker prize recognises, in equal proportions and for the first time, a trio. Is this the end of architectural stars? There is no doubt that this year’s choice is a strong signal, given that up to now this prize was most often awarded to giants of architecture. This shift in trend was already tangible last year, when the prize was awarded to Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, founder of the Elemental Aravena firm, working with small clients (and who has since become a star!).

This 2017 Pritzker prize awarded to the founders of the RCR architecture firm did not really come as a surprise to me, because Spain is currently training the best architects in the world. We have experienced this in our competitions (Archizinc Trophy). Spanish architects “monopolize” first place, especially for renovations and requalification of old buildings (this is one of the reasons for which RCR was noticed). The terrible crisis in the Spanish construction sector amplified this phenomenon. Numerous up and coming architects had to resign themselves to working abroad, which contributed to further increasing their influence.

Another factor of personal interest in this 2017 Pritzker prize: Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta like noble, raw materials, such as zinc. Last summer I visited the Soulages Museum in Rodez, which they designed. Naturally because I love the abstract paintings of Soulages. But I must admit I spent as much time analysing the container as the content of this superb building. The large rust-coloured boxes (in Corten steel) are magnificently poised in the city’s main square. This perfect showcase has become a sort of local Guggenheim!

Last element of satisfaction: our material (in its black Anthra-Zinc ® version, was used as early as 2002 by RCR to clad the casa M-Lidia, a splendid private house delicately poised in the countryside near Girona.

Roger Baltus
Engineer - Architect
VMZINC Communication Director

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