The Hyatt Foundation has selected Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal as the 2021 winners of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the accolade it has been giving every year since 1979, coming with an award of US$100,000 (84,000 euros).
Chaired by Alejandro Aravena, the jury states: “The work of Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal reflects architecture’s democratic spirit. Through their belief that architecture is more than just buildings, through the issues they address and the proposals they realize, through forging a responsible and sometimes solitary path illustrating that the best architecture can be humble and is always thoughtful, respectful, and responsible, they have shown that architecture can have a great impact on our communities.”
Anne Lacaton (Saint-Pardoux, France, 1955) and Jean-Philippe Vassal (Casablanca, Morocco, 1954) set up their practice in Paris in 1987, having both graduated from the Bordeaux School of Architecture and completed training in urban planning as well – Lacaton in Bordeaux Montaigne University and Vassal in the course of a five-year stay in Niger. Already in their early works, such as the Latapie House in Bordeaux, they showed the same frankness and respect for surroundings that would later shine through in the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Their research in construction spans a large range of types and scales, from the programmatic pursuit in the Nantes School of Architecture to the technical innovation in the refurbishment of the Tour Bois-le-Prêtre in Paris or the formal simplicity of their intervention on an old shipbuilding workshop to house the FRAC museum in Dunkirk.
The French firm has also demonstrated its architectural moderation and social commitment in projects like the transformation of three blocks with 530 apartments in Bordeaux. Carried out in collaboration with Frédéric Druot and Christophe Hutin and awarded with the Mies van der Rohe in 2019, it upholds refurbishment over demolition of obsolete constructions, and also an economy of gestures and means that prioritizes making the most of available resources and ensuring the well-being of users.