A PRITZKER TO THE ROOTS
On March 1st the Catalan study RCR Arquitectes was awarded the Pritzker 2017 Prize, becoming the second Spanish study to which this prestigious accolade is bestowed.
It is intriguing and significant that in the present day this award is given to a study that proposes, in their own words, “a look at the landscape, a search for the primordial, the essential.” Are we facing a new change in architectural direction, opposed to ultra-modernity and high-tech?
The study was established in 1988 in Olot, the hometown of its members, Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramón Vilalta, and most of their works are located in Catalonia, and that makes them consistent in their commitment to the place and its narrative, resisting the call of the city to stay connected with their roots.
All their works share a special sensitivity to the location and a deep connection with the environment, coming from the analysis and understanding of its components (history, customs, culture), as well as its relation with light, shadow and colors through the seasons. The choice of materials and geometries is intended to highlight natural conditions and bring them to the building. Spaces are designed with the user in mind, and that is why they are always useful and well received by the public.
RCR’s style has been described as synthetic brutalism, emphasizing materiality and constructive techniques, creating spaces in total dialogue with their respective contexts. The use of materials such as corten steel, rough stone, exposed concrete , or glass in large proportions, leads us to a rooting with the Modern Movement, but with a contemporary proposal, and a new approach to nature.
This return to the roots and the production of a local architecture, as opposed to the current globalization, has been key to the decision of the jury. “More and more people fear that because of this international influence, we will lose our local values, our local art and our local customs.”
The RCR proposal is an cry for reclaiming local cultural values, integration with nature, and the pursuit of conceptual purity. As architects and as Spaniards we have only to rejoice over this award and for what it entails, and enjoy a selection of their best works.
Works selection by plataformaarquitectura.cl
Piedra Tosca Park:
Public space Theater La Lira
Athletic Stadium Tossols Basil:
Sant Antoni – Joan Oliver Library:
Restaurant Les Colls:
Barbieri Space, RCR Arquitectes office: