Rafael Aranda (1961), Carme Pigem (1962) and Ramon Vilalta (1960) completed their studies in architecture at the School of Architecture in Valles (Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura del Vallès, or ETSAV) in 1987, and founded their studio, RCR Arquitectes, in their native city of Olot, in the Spanish province of Girona, the following year. 

They attribute their early success to a first prize victory in a 1988 competition sponsored by the Spanish Ministry of Public Works and Urbanism, in which they designed a lighthouse in Punta Aldea by pondering the essence of the typology, a fundamental approach that would resonate throughout all of their future works.

This achievement allowed them to explore their distinctive ideas of architecture, informed by place and their own sensitivities, resulting in winning commissions, many of which were undertaken in Catalonia. It is more recently that they have received international accolades and ventured beyond the Spanish borders with projects in other European countries.

Aranda, Pigem and Vilalta have participated in important exhibitions including the III Salon International de l’Architecture in Paris in 1990; the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2000, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2016; MoMA’s On-Site: New Architecture in Spain, New York, 2006; Global Ends at Toto Gallery MA in Tokyo, 2010; and RCR Arquitectes. Shared Creativity in Barcelona, 2015 and Madrid, 2016.

They are recipients of the National Award for Culture in Architecture 2005 granted by the Catalonian government; the French Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, 2008 and 2014; Honorary Fellows of the American Institute of Architecture, 2010; International Fellows of the Royal Institute of British Architects, 2012; and awardees of the Gold Medal by the French Académie d’Architecture, 2015.

Since 1989, Aranda, Pigem and Vilalta have served as consultant architects to the Natural Park in the Volcanic Zone of La Garrotxa. They have taught urbanism, landscape architecture and design studio at ETSAV from 1989-2001, and individually served as critics for diploma project juries at ETSAV and Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura de Barcelona throughout the past two decades. In 2012, they established an international summer workshop at their studio based in the Barberí Laboratory.

They have been invited to give more than 200 lectures throughout Spain and in foreign cities, and their work has been published at great length in books including “RCR Aranda Pigem Vilalta Arquitectes. Entre la abstracción y la naturaleza” by William J.R. Curtis, published by Gustavo Gili, Barcelona (2004); and journals, El Croquis, a+u, Casabella, Detail, Bauwelt, and Arquitectura Viva, among others.

In 2013 they established RCR BUNKA Foundation to support architecture, landscape, arts and culture throughout society.

Rafael, Carme, Ramon

 

Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta Receive the 2017 Pritzker Architecture Prize

Landscape and architecture are united to create buildings that are intimately connected to place and time.

Chicago, IL (March 1, 2017)—Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta have been selected as the 2017 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureates, announced Tom Pritzker, Chairman of Hyatt Foundation, which sponsors the award that is known internationally as architecture’s highest honor.

The three architects, originating from Olot, in the Catalonian region of Spain, have worked together collaboratively since founding their firm RCR Arquitectes, in their hometown in 1988. Their work demonstrates an unyielding commitment to place and its narrative, to create spaces that are in discourse with their respective contexts. Harmonizing materiality with transparency, Aranda, Pigem and Vilalta seek connections between the exterior and interior, resulting in emotional and experiential architecture.

Mr. Pritzker remarks: “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. Their works range 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.”

Mr. Aranda, Ms. Pigem and Mr. Vilalta represent the first time that three architects together are honored with the prize. Their intensely collaborative way of working together, where the creative process, commitment to vision and all responsibilities are shared equally, led to the selection of the three individuals for this year’s award. As the winners of the 39th edition of the Prize, it is the second time that laureates hail from Spain, following Rafael Moneo who received the award in 1996. In response to being named the 2017 Laureates of the Pritzker Prize, Ms. Pigem states: “It is a great joy and a great responsibility. We are thrilled that this year three professionals, who work closely together in everything we do, are recognized.”

The locally-based architects evoke universal identity through their creative and extensive use of modern materials including recycled steel and plastic. “They’ve demonstrated that unity of a material can lend such incredible strength and simplicity to a building,” says Glenn Murcutt, Jury Chair. “The collaboration of these three 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.” As such, an early 20th century foundry has become their office, Barberí Laboratory (2007), and many remnants of the original building have remained, blended with highly contrasting, new elements, which were added only where essential.

 

Notable projects include La Cuisine Art Center (Nègrepelisse, France, 2014), Soulages Museum in collaboration with G. Trégouët (Rodez, France, 2014), La Lira Theater Public Open Space in collaboration with J. Puigcorbé (Ripoll, Girona, Spain, 2011), Les Cols restaurant marquee (Olot, Girona, Spain, 2011), El Petit Comte Kindergarten in collaboration with J. Puigcorbé (Besalú, Girona, Spain, 2010), Bell-Lloc Winery (Palamós, Girona, Spain, 2007), Sant Antoni - Joan Oliver Library, Senior Citizen’s Center and Cándida Pérez Gardens (Barcelona, Spain, 2007), and Tossol-Basil Athletics Track (Olot, Girona, Spain, 2000).

The 2017 Pritzker Prize Jury Citation states, in part: “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.”

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. They remain based in Olot.

This year, the Pritzker Prize ceremony will take place at the State Guest House, Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, Japan, on May 20, 2017.

Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta, three architects who have worked closely together for almost 30 years in a deliberate and thoughtful approach to architecture are recognized with the 2017 Pritzker Architecture Prize. Their works admirably and poetically fulfill the traditional requirements of architecture for physical and spatial beauty along with function and craftsmanship, but what sets them apart is their approach that creates buildings and places that are both local and universal at the same time. They established their office, called RCR for their three first names, in Olot, their hometown in the Catalonian region in the northeast of Spain, resisting the call of the metropolis in favor of remaining closely connected to their roots. 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. Their creative approach is a constant intermingling of ideas and continuous dialogue.

All their works have a strong sense of place and are powerfully connected to the surrounding landscape. This connection comes from understanding – history, the natural topography, customs and cultures, among other things – and observing and experiencing light, shade, colors and the seasons. 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 Bell-Lloc Winery (2007), in the town of Palamós, near Girona, Spain, for example, a building embedded in the ground, is about the soil that produces the grapes, the cool dark cellars needed for the aging of wine and  the color and weight of the earth. The extensive use of recycled steel fuses the building with the earth and the openings between the steel slats allow in hints of light.

The marquee (2011) creating an outdoor dining and event space at Les Cols Restaurant in Olot is another example of the fusion of landscape and minimal modern materials to create a useful and popular venue. Some have said that they are reminded of places for countryside meals with family and friends. The space fits into a valley carved out in the landscape by the architects.  Strong walls of volcanic stone support a light weight and transparent polymer roof to protect against rain and sun.  The furniture and vertical hanging blinds that can sub-divide the space are also of clear plastic, which puts the emphasis on food, festivities and the natural setting.

In other works, such as their own office (2007), a former foundry built at the beginning of the 20th century, the juxtaposition of past and present is undertaken in a most thoughtful, clear and respectful way. Just as exterior and interior are closely intertwined in their works, so are new and old.  All of the original industrial building that could remain, was left “as is”. By adding new elements only where needed and in contrasting materials, the architects demonstrate their love for both tradition and innovation. The resulting building, which they call Barberí Laboratory, is comprised of varied, flexible and highly functional spaces. While Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta have a deep sense and knowledge of history, they use materials and modern construction to create spaces that could not have been created before.

Community is another word that comes to mind when speaking of the work of Aranda, Pigem and Vilalta. Both in the bright and colorful nursery school in Besalú, Girona, El Petit Comte Kindergarten (2010) and the Sant Antoni – Joan Oliver Library, Senior Citizens Center and Cándida Pérez Gardens in Barcelona (2007), those who will inhabit the buildings are at the forefront of their concerns. It is obvious when seeing the rainbow colors of the tubes that define the exterior of the school that this is for children’s enjoyment, creativity, and fantasy. The library, a commission won through a competition, as are many of RCR’s projects, is situated within the fabric of an existing city block, is a needed amenity in this busy part of Barcelona. Visitors are welcomed into the library. The richness and variety of spaces invite exploration and are casual enough to create a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The library also acts as a gateway to an interior courtyard. The senior citizens center looks onto this space where children, library goers, neighbors, and seniors can mingle.

The architects have also tackled important works outside their home in Catalonia. They have built in Belgium and France. The Soulages Museum (2014) in Rodez, France, for example, houses the works of the abstract painter Pierre Soulages and forms a symbiosis with the artist, who seems to paint with light. This building of steel and strong geometric shapes cantilevers over the site, seeming to defy gravity and like many of their other works is in dialogue with the landscape. The architects have sought to create “a space that is as close to nature as possible, enhancing our sense that we are part of it.”

In this day and age, there is an important question that people all over the world are asking, and it is not just about architecture; it is about law, politics, and government as well. 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. They are concerned and sometimes frightened. 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. And that is such a wonderfully reassuring answer, particularly if it applies in other areas of modern human life as well.

Each building designed by these architects is special and is uncompromising of its time and place. Their works are always the fruit of true collaboration and at the service of the community. They understand that architecture and its surroundings are intimately intertwined and know that the choice of materials and the craft of building are powerful tools for creating lasting and meaningful spaces. For these reasons, exemplified in all their built work, and for their ability to express the local, but also the universal, uniting us with one another through architecture, Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta are awarded the 2017 Pritzker Architecture Prize.

 

Jury Members

Glenn Murcutt Chair
Stephen Breyer
Yung Ho Chang

Kristin Feireiss

The Lord Palumbo
Richard Rogers
Benedetta Tagliabue
Ratan N. Tata
Martha Thorne, Executive Director

State Guest House, Akasaka Palace, Tokyo, Japan

The State Guest House, also referred to as Geihinkan and formerly known as Akasaka Palace, was originally built as the palace for the Crown Prince in 1909.
Designed during the Japanese Meiji period and influenced by Western Neo-Baroque design, the palace features classic ornate French interiors with traditional Japanese motifs and craftwork. It was designated as a national treasure in 2009 and presently serves as an official accommodation and meeting venue for visiting Heads of State and international dignitaries.

Akasaka Palace is available to the public for limited view throughout the year.

Past Pritzker Architecture Prize ceremonies have been held at France’s Palace of Versailles and Grand Trianon, Todai- ji Bhuddist Temple in Japan, Prague Castle in The Czech Republic, the White House in Washington, D.C., and Beijing’s Great Hall of the People; as well as at distinguished art institutions including The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, the Altes Museum in Berlin, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

 

Read Rafal Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta's Ceremony Acceptance Speech

Read Tom Pritzker's Ceremony Speech

Read Glenn Murcutt's Ceremony Speech

Read Martha Thorne's Ceremony Speech

 

Akasaka Palace

 

Ceremony Highlights

Full Ceremony

 

Images for Download

The following are images of the architecture of Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta.

These images may be downloaded and distributed only in relation to the announcement of Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta being named the 2017 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureates.

The photographer/photo libraries/artists must be credited if noted.

All images are copyright of the respective photographers and artists cited, and courtesy of the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Click on each image to download a high-resolution file.

Captions for these images are in the 2017 Image Book, available here
Download the 2017 Media Kit here.

 

2017 Laureates
Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta
2017 Laureates

 

Bell–Lloc Winery, 2007, Palamós, Girona, Spain
Bell–Lloc Winery, 2007, Palamós, Girona, Spain 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

Bell–Lloc Winery, 2007, Palamós, Girona, Spain
Bell–Lloc Winery, 2007, Palamós, Girona, Spain 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

Bell–Lloc Winery, 2007, Palamós, Girona, Spain
Bell–Lloc Winery, 2007, Palamós, Girona, Spain 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

Bell–Lloc Winery, 2007, Palamós, Girona, Spain
Bell–Lloc Winery, 2007, Palamós, Girona, Spain 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

Soulages Museum, 2014, Rodez, France In collaboration with G. Trégouët
Soulages Museum, 2014, Rodez, France In collaboration with G. Trégouët 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

Soulages Museum, 2014, Rodez, France In collaboration with G. Trégouët
Soulages Museum, 2014, Rodez, France In collaboration with G. Trégouët 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

Soulages Museum, 2014, Rodez, France In collaboration with G. Trégouët
Soulages Museum, 2014, Rodez, France In collaboration with G. Trégouët 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

Soulages Museum, 2014, Rodez, France In collaboration with G. Trégouët
Soulages Museum, 2014, Rodez, France In collaboration with G. Trégouët 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

Soulages Museum, 2014, Rodez, France In collaboration with G. Trégouët
Soulages Museum, 2014, Rodez, France In collaboration with G. Trégouët 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

La Lira Theater Public Open Space, 2011, Ripoll, Girona, Spain In collaboration with J. Puigcorbé
La Lira Theater Public Open Space, 2011, Ripoll, Girona, Spain In collaboration with J. Puigcorbé 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

La Lira Theater Public Open Space, 2011, Ripoll, Girona, Spain In collaboration with J. Puigcorbé
La Lira Theater Public Open Space, 2011, Ripoll, Girona, Spain In collaboration with J. Puigcorbé 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

La Lira Theater Public Open Space, 2011, Ripoll, Girona, Spain In collaboration with J. Puigcorbé
La Lira Theater Public Open Space, 2011, Ripoll, Girona, Spain In collaboration with J. Puigcorbé 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

El Petit Comte Kindergarten, 2010, Besalú, Girona, Spain In collaboration with J. Puigcorbé
El Petit Comte Kindergarten, 2010, Besalú, Girona, Spain In collaboration with J. Puigcorbé 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

El Petit Comte Kindergarten, 2010, Besalú, Girona, Spain In collaboration with J. Puigcorbé
El Petit Comte Kindergarten, 2010, Besalú, Girona, Spain In collaboration with J. Puigcorbé 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

El Petit Comte Kindergarten, 2010, Besalú, Girona, Spain In collaboration with J. Puigcorbé
El Petit Comte Kindergarten, 2010, Besalú, Girona, Spain In collaboration with J. Puigcorbé 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

El Petit Comte Kindergarten, 2010, Besalú, Girona, Spain In collaboration with J. Puigcorbé
El Petit Comte Kindergarten, 2010, Besalú, Girona, Spain In collaboration with J. Puigcorbé 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

Les Cols Restaurant Marquee 2011 Olot, Girona, Spain
Les Cols Restaurant Marquee 2011 Olot, Girona, Spain 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

Les Cols Restaurant Marquee 2011 Olot, Girona, Spain
Les Cols Restaurant Marquee 2011 Olot, Girona, Spain 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

 

Les Cols Restaurant Marquee 2011 Olot, Girona, Spain
Les Cols Restaurant Marquee 2011 Olot, Girona, Spain 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

Barberí Laboratory 2008 Olot, Girona, Spain
Barberí Laboratory 2008 Olot, Girona, Spain 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

Barberí Laboratory 2008 Olot, Girona, Spain
Barberí Laboratory 2008 Olot, Girona, Spain 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

Sant Antoni – Joan Oliver Library, Senior Citizens Center and Cándida Pérez Gardens, 2007, Barcelona, Spain
Sant Antoni – Joan Oliver Library, Senior Citizens Center and Cándida Pérez Gardens, 2007, Barcelona, Spain 
Photo by Eugeni Pons

 

Sant Antoni – Joan Oliver Library, Senior Citizens Center and Cándida Pérez Gardens, 2007, Barcelona, Spain
Sant Antoni – Joan Oliver Library, Senior Citizens Center and Cándida Pérez Gardens, 2007, Barcelona, Spain 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

Sant Antoni – Joan Oliver Library, Senior Citizens Center and Cándida Pérez Gardens, 2007, Barcelona, Spain
Sant Antoni – Joan Oliver Library, Senior Citizens Center and Cándida Pérez Gardens, 2007, Barcelona, Spain 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

Sant Antoni – Joan Oliver Library, Senior Citizens Center and Cándida Pérez Gardens, 2007, Barcelona, Spain
Sant Antoni – Joan Oliver Library, Senior Citizens Center and Cándida Pérez Gardens, 2007, Barcelona, Spain 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

Tossols-Basil Athletics Track 2000 Olot, Girona, Spain
Tossols-Basil Athletics Track 2000 Olot, Girona, Spain 
Photo by Ramon Prat

 

Tossols-Basil Athletics Track 2000 Olot, Girona, Spain
Tossols-Basil Athletics Track 2000 Olot, Girona, Spain 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

Tossols-Basil Athletics Track 2000 Olot, Girona, Spain
Tossols-Basil Athletics Track 2000 Olot, Girona, Spain 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

Tossols-Basil Athletics Track 2000 Olot, Girona, Spain
Tossols-Basil Athletics Track 2000 Olot, Girona, Spain 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

La Cuisine Art Center 2014 Nègrepelisse, France
La Cuisine Art Center 2014 Nègrepelisse, France 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

La Cuisine Art Center 2014 Nègrepelisse, France
La Cuisine Art Center 2014 Nègrepelisse, France 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

La Cuisine Art Center 2014 Nègrepelisse, France
La Cuisine Art Center 2014 Nègrepelisse, France 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

Row House 2012 Olot, Girona, Spain
Row House 2012 Olot, Girona, Spain 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

Row House 2012 Olot, Girona, Spain
Row House 2012 Olot, Girona, Spain 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki

 

Row House 2012 Olot, Girona, Spain
Row House 2012 Olot, Girona, Spain 
Photo by Hisao Suzuki