The work of the Catalan firm RCR Arquitectes was, until its founders won the 2017 Pritzker Prize this month, little-known worldwide, with appreciation of their projects largely restricted to the few European locations in which they have built and a number of well-informed academic circles. Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta founded their office in the small town of Olot almost 30 years ago, and most of their work for the past three decades have been built in the surrounding regions of Catalonia. As the Pritzker jury has pointed out, one of their greatest qualities is their ability to show how architects can have "our roots firmly in place and our arms outstretched to the rest of the world." Through the videos presented in this article, it is possible to understand a little more about the work of the office, and more specifically, to appreciate the atmosphere of its built works.
The 2017 Pritzker Prize was a surprise to many, awarded to the three founders of RCR Arquitectes, a modest Spanish firm located in the small town of Olot in Catalonia. Many people and critics shared their astonishment at the prize being awarded to three individuals for the first time since the Pritzker Prize began in 1979, including the third female winner, and at the relatively low profile of RCR Arquitectes before March 1st.
Whether this surprise was pleasant or shocking differs from critic to critic, but there nevertheless seems to be a consensus on the jury’s decision to venture further into politics and away from their traditional interest in celebrity architects. As clearly stated in the jury’s citation: “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.” Are they steering the prize in the right, or wrong, direction?
Today, Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta were named the laureates of the 2017 Pritzker Prize, becoming the first trio of architects to be bestowed the profession’s highest accolade. Working together since 1988 as RCR Arquitectes, the team has tackled a wide range of project types, from libraries to wineries to park designs – many of which are located in their home region of Catalonia, Spain. Continue to see 20 images from their work that exemplify the firm’s outstanding attention to detail and considered use of materiality.
Today, the Pritzker announced Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta, the three founders of Catalan firm RCR Arquitectes, as the recipients of the 2017 Pritzker Prize. As designers of an architecture that is both stylistically and physically local—RCR Arquitectes’ work is mostly found in Catalonia, although recent projects have taken them to France and Belgium—the firm has established a strong profile in north-eastern Spain and a cult following among academic circles around the world. However, other members of the architectural community might find themselves forced to reach for the nearest search engine. For those people, the following 9 facts will provide the information you need to understand architecture’s newest Pritzker Prize laureates.
Two days ago ArchDaily had the distinct honor to interview Ramon Vilalta, one of the three architects named as 2017 Pritzker Laureates. Vilalta gave us an exclusive insight into history behind his collaboration with Rafael Aranda and Carme Pigem and how their connection to their small hometown of Olot, Spain has influenced a career that has produced exceptional projects by their firm, RCR Arquitectes.
ArchDaily: How did your studio/practice begin? Why did you start quickly after graduating?
Ramon Vilalta: In that sense we were very disciplined people. We finished our degrees quickly and once we were finished we decided to share a studio; we chose to confront architecture by sharing it, and by really sharing it. We each have different personalities – each one has his or her own style but what comes from the chemistry between the three of us makes us special, I think. This was, I feel, a big decision that wasn’t easy at the time.
Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta have been named as the laureates of the 2017 Pritzker Prize. Their projects emphasize materiality and craft – considered use of color, transparency (and thereby light) define an oeuvre which ranges from public buildings to houses, a kindergarten and a winery.
The three architects—all of whom are Spanish Catalan and originate from Olot, Girona (where they are all presently based)—have worked collaboratively together as RCR Arquitectes since 1988; they simultaneously graduated in Architecture from ETSAV, the School of Architecture in Valles (Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura del Vallès) a year prior. This 39th incarnation of the Prize represents the first instance in which three architects have been recognized at once, and only the second time—following Rafael Moneo in 1996—that Spanish practitioners have been honored.