Since 1932 the Spanish Government has given the National Award for Architecture, which has gone through many ups and downs and changes of direction over the years. Since 2001 it has been bestowed not upon a work, but upon an entire career, and since 2014 it has been accompanied by a money prize of 60,000 euros. Juan Navarro Baldeweg and Rafael Moneo, winners in 2014 and 2015, were on the jury that gave the 2016 award to José Antonio Martínez Lapeña and Elías Torres, the acclaimed duo based in Barcelona which has for forty-five years now been producing works characterized by formal quality and a commitment to experiment with a wide diversity of scales and architectural types.
With this prize the jury has also acknowledged a body of work of admirable continuity: the continuity thanks to which, despite being conceived for very different contexts as well as very different programs, the buildings of this extraordinary architectural partnership never fail to ooze a recognizable, familiar air; and the continuity manifested by the fact that all these years the partners have maintained a coherent attitude centered on the architectural discipline and largely distanced from fashions. For proof of this, suffice it to examine the impressive sceneries of the Church of L’Hospitalet in Ibiza, the topographical La Granja escalators leading up to the historic city of Toledo, the calligraphic canopies along the old ramparts of Palma de Mallorca, or the zigzagging pedestrian ramps at the castle of Castelldefells, in the province of Barcelona.