19-03-2021

Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal 2021 Pritzker Architecture Prize

Lacaton & Vassal architectes,

Laurent Chalet, Philippe Ruault,

Bordeaux, France,

Housing, Condos,

Pritzker Architecture Prize,

On March 16 Tom Pritzker, Chairman of the Hyatt Foundation, which sponsors the award, announced that French architects Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal are the winners of the 2021 Pritzker Architecture Prize, known internationally as architecture’s highest honour. The announcement, enthusiastically welcomed by the public, acknowledges Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal’s merit of creating architecture that improves people’s lives and responds to the social, climatic and ecological emergencies of our times.



Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal 2021 Pritzker Architecture Prize

After 2020 winners Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, another duo has won the world’s most prestigious prize for architecture, viewed as a sort of “Nobel Prize” in the discipline. Architects Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal, who founded their Paris studio in 1987, have been presented with the 2021 Pritzker Architecture Prize: the announcement was made on March 16 by Tom Pritzker, Chairman of the Hyatt Foundation, which sponsors the annual award.
Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal’s victory was enthusiastically welcomed by the public. The two French architects are known for their ability to create architecture that improves people’s lives and responds to the social, climatic and ecological emergencies of our times. This appreciation is apparent in the motivation of the jury, chaired by architect Alejandro Aravena, emphasising that Lacaton and Vassal’s approach to architecture has renewed the legacy of modernism with projects responding to the new demands of today’s world “through a powerful sense of space and materials that creates architecture as strong in its forms as in its convictions, as transparent in its aesthetic as in its ethics”.

The professional partnership between Anne Lacaton (1955) and Jean-Philippe Vassal (1954) began in the late sixties, when they were both students at the École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture et de Paysage de Bordeaux, and continued in Niger: an essential experience the architects call "a second school of architecture". It was in Niger that the two architects completed their first project together, a straw hut built out of branches from local shrubs.
This experience taught them what was to become the mantra of their studio: never demolish anything that can be restored, offer new possibilities for existing constructions and make them sustainable.
"The pre-existing has value if you take the time and effort to look at it carefully," says Anne Lacaton. The architects constantly apply these concepts to all their projects, from private and social housing projects to cultural and academic institutions, public spaces and urban developments.
Anne Lacaton describes the studio’s concept of architecture and professional mission in simple terms: "Good architecture is open — pen to life, open to enhance the freedom of anyone, where anyone can do what they need to do," continuing that "it should not be demonstrative or imposing, but it must be something familiar, useful and beautiful, with the ability to quietly support the life that will take place within it".
This concept of architecture may be found in the “Transformation of 530 dwellings Grand Parc Bordeaux”, a project completed with Frédéric Druot Architecture and Christophe Hutin Architecture which won the 2019 Mies Van Der Rohe Award, involving renewal of a complex of 530 apartments dating back to the 1960s. The architects succeed in transforming the spaces and significantly improving the quality and amount of daylight using balconies and winter gardens, without inflating renovation costs and therefore rent, and above all with only minimal inconvenience to residents, taking great care to obtain in-depth knowledge of the existing and planned materials and spaces and the social dynamics of the complex.

(Agnese Bifulco)

Images courtesy of courtesy of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, photos by Philippe Ruault

Lacaton & Vassal architectes - France: http://lacatonvassal.com/


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