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 architecture of RCR Arquitectes stands out for its honest materiality, and for its intense use of light and transparency. Although many of their projects display similar characteristics to one another, each project is sensitive to its surroundings, simultaneously merging with and imposing itself upon the landscape. As Glenn Murcutt, chairman of the Pritzker jury, summed up, "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."
In the nine videos shown here, one can note the diversity of typologies that the office works on. There are homes, a museum, a theater, a winery and an exhibition display. The videos make it possible to experience the daily routine of their office - known as the Barberí Laboratory, a renovated foundry - during one of the summer workshops that architects offer every year. Or, they make it is possible to imagine oneself living in an RCR-designed house, visiting the Bell-lloc Winery; experiencing the spaces, observing these buildings' relationship with their immediate surroundings, or feeling the roughness of their Corten steel surfaces.
Though the videos are in a mixture of English, Spanish and Catalan, the slow and deliberate unfolding of events they show allow us to understand a little more about the strategies employed by the RCR Arquitectes, and to better understand why their work has received such an important recognition.