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Three Men in the Pritzker Boat

"Who are these people?" was the big question straight after the winners of the 2017 Pritzker Prize were named on the 1st of March. It could be said, "Oh, they are cool guys, I've been following them for a long while". But let's be honest, these architects are not that famous as Zaha Hadid or Frank Gehry back in their day.


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For the first time ever the highest award went to trio. Before that, Pritzker’s Lion had been shared between two winners only. In 1988, the Pritzker went to Gordon Bunshaft (USA) and Oscar Niemeyer (Brazil). In 2001, luck favored Swiss bureau Herzog & de Meuron Architekten, and in 2010 – laconic mannered Japanese duet SANAA.


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New winners are Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta. Together they run small Spanish bureau RCR Arquitectes. Their objects are very well considered, contextual, and arisen from history, topography, and traditions.


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Nature is the common denominator of all trio’s architectural projects. They fit the buildings into landscapes, turning into explorers each time before they get down to work. There are no random arrangements, forms or materials. Every single detail is a careful piece of work.


"We are used to 'reading' the place as if it spoke to us with its own alphabet – an alphabet established between the site and us", says Carme Pigem.
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Bureau’s history began in Olot, a small town about 100 kilometers from Barcelona. In 1987, the architects graduated from the Technical University of Catalonia, and a year later founded а studio. Today, trio's work looks like a cappella performance: one starts, the others catch up and further develop the concept. "For us, it’s very important to work together," Carmen Pigem said to the The New York Times. "It’s not a question of one person; it’s all three. Sometimes we say six hands, one voice."
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Key projects by RCR Arquitectes

Bell–Lloc Winery in Palamós, Spain
2007

The building with steel sides that permit sun rays through. The angles enhance the effect of light and emphasize the complex geometry.

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El Petit Comte Kindergarten in Besalú, Spain
2010

Gradients of plastic make the building liken to a rainbow. Floor to ceiling glass encloses much of the space letting the full of color filters natural light in.


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Soulages Museum in Rodez, France
2014

Chameleonic building is made of solid blocks almost soaring above the ground. The architects have used cor-ten steel as primary building material, so the exterior of the building will gradually change over time.
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Restaurant Les Cols in Olot, Spain
2011

The building frame is composed of metal pipes under the cap of transparent plastic. Semi-open space makes it possible for the guests of the restaurant to enjoy a wonderful view of the surrounding volcanic landscape during lunch or dinner.


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Tossols-Basil Athletics Track in Olot, Spain
2000

The architects approached the landscape with great respect and saved the trees inside the training area. The project emphasizes harmonious coexistence of nature and sport. Vegetation that changes color through the seasons serves as key design element.



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La Cuisine Art Center in Nègrepelisse, France
2014

Hidden inside the stone walls of a historic building, interior environment looks modern and rebellious. Steel and glass spaces host exhibitions, workshops, and conferences dedicated to food design and cooking art.
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