Key Highlights

  • International Pritzker Prize often referred to as Noble Prize of architecture
  • French architects Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal this year’s recipients of Pritzker for commitment to “restorative architecture”

The Pritzker Prize for Architecture

Established  in 1979 by the Pritzker family of Chicago and founders of the Hyatt Hotels, the international Pritzker Prize for architecture is considered to be as prestigious as the Nobel Prize.

This year’s Pritzker Prize, often called “Architecture’s Nobel” as “the profession’s highest honor,” has been awarded to Anne Location and Philippe Vassal, French architects of affordable housing and buildings.

Lacaton and Vassal Honored for their “Restorative Architecture

According to this year’s Pritzker jury, Lacaton and Vassal have been recognized for their commitment to “restorative architecture” that uses technology, innovation and ecological responsiveness to improve the use of the existing space.

Committed to their belief that every structure can be repurposed, reinvented and/or reinvigorated, Lacaton and Vassal are the first Pritzker laureates to be recognized for their affordable architectural designsfor existing housing and buildings.

Award-Winning Designers Focus on Use of Space

Lacaton and Vassal do, in fact, focus on the use of a space unlike most architects who focus on the aesthetics of a space. They upgrade, renovate and rejuvenate existing housing and buildings around how residents and workers use the space.

Long-standing architectural partners, Location and Vassal also deliberately leave “extra” spaces undesignated or unstructured so residents/workers can choose how they want to use it.  Those “extra” spaces become fluidly alive by being a place for a Ping Pong tournament, a classroom or a TV studio at any point in time.

Vassal said, “We have a strong belief that people have the ability to be creative, if given the space to do it…”

“Never Demolish” – “Never Waste Materials”

Lacaton said, “There are too many demolitions of existing buildings which are not old, which still have a life in front of them, which are not out of use…there is always something positive to take from an existing situation.”

In upgrading a 1960’s affordable housing project in the outskirts of Paris, the architects extended floor plates to increase room sizes, added balconies and added spaces for winter gardens.  They prefer to work with natural elements they don’t have to pay for such as making slight modifications to building traffic flow or, at least, less expensive elements such as wood, gravel and fabric.

Vassal and Lacaton Challenge Notion that Affordable Space is Cramped Space

Since Vassal and Lacaton always look first at the use requirements of affordable housing and buildings, this pair believes that their work is about providing places for activity.  “If the people inside (the buildings or housing) feel comfortable, feel happy…it is this moment that creates architecture.”


Thanks to The New York Times and the Pritzker Foundation.


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