By Natalie Rayment
Only two days ago, Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta of RCR Arquitectes were awarded the 2017 Pritzker Architecture Prize. This is generally known as the Nobel Prize for Architecture. It recognises the architects who have created works that have made “consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture”.
A key strength of their work is that they manage to harmoniously weave new building designs in with the existing fabric of the surrounding area. The Jury Citation for the prize states “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”.
Their design philosophy is pertinent for South East Queensland where all too often the discussion around new architecture is dominated by fear of change and negativity. We should encourage and celebrate architectural design excellence especially when the existing environment is respected but where newness is embraced at the same time.
As one of the award winning architects Carme Pigem told the New York Times: “For us, what is very, very important is the relationship to the site,” Ms. Pigem said. “If the site is natural, or if the site is a building, or if the site is a city. What is important is to study the strong and unique relationship between the existing and the new.”
The architects embrace the new through their use of modern materials such as recycled steel and plastic. They also create “buildings and places that are both local and universal at the same time” according to the Prize Jury. This type of design excellence needs to be encouraged and celebrated in Brisbane not only by architecture nerds and industry leaders but by the wider community so that we can truly meet the vision of becoming a new world city.