Anne Lacaton, Jean-Philippe Vassal Win 2021 Pritzker Prize for Architecture

Their motto is to "never demolish".

New Delhi: French architects Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal have won the 2021 Pritzker Prize for architecture, considered to be the profession’s highest honour.

The two are known to create sustainable buildings by using pre-existing structures in their work. Their motto is to “never demolish”, and so ” Lacaton and Vassal undertake restrained interventions to upgrade dated infrastructure while allowing enduring properties of a building to remain”, the Pritzker Prize website says. The two also use open spaces in a way that integrates them into the buildings.

“Transformation is the opportunity of doing more and better with what is already existing. The demolishing is a decision of easiness and short term. It is a waste of many things—a waste of energy, a waste of material, and a waste of history. Moreover, it has a very negative social impact. For us, it is an act of violence,” Lacaton says.

“Not only have they defined an architectural approach that renews the legacy of modernism, but they have also proposed an adjusted definition of the very profession of architecture. The modernist hopes and dreams to improve the lives of many are reinvigorated through their work that responds to the climatic and ecological emergencies of our time, as well as social urgencies, particularly in the realm of urban housing. They accomplish this through a powerful sense of space and materials that creates architecture as strong in its forms as in its convictions, as transparent in its aesthetic as in its ethics,” the Pritzker jury citation about them says.

Lacaton and Vassal’s most recent work is the transformation of the Palais de Tokyo (Paris, France 2012). “Retreating from white cube galleries and guided pathways that are characteristic of many contemporary art museums, the architects instead created voluminous, unfinished spaces. These spaces allow artists and curators to create boundless exhibitions for all mediums of art within a range of physical environments, from dark and cavernous to transparent and sunlit, that encourage visitors to linger.”

Here are images of some of the work Lacaton and Vassal have undertaken and been rewarded for.

Site for Contemporary Creation, Phase 2, Palais de Tokyo. Photo: Courtesy of Philippe Ruault/Pritzker Architecture Prize

129 Units, Ourcq-Juarès Student and Social Housing. Photo: Courtesy of Philippe Ruault/Pritzker Architecture Prize

House in Bordeaux. Photo: Courtesy of Philippe Ruault/Pritzker Architecture Prize

École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Nantes. Photo: Courtesy of Philippe Ruault/Pritzker Architecture Prize

Transformation of G, H, I Buildings, Grand Parc, 530 Units, Social Housing (with Frédéric Druot and Christophe Hutin). Photo: Courtesy of Philippe Ruault/Pritzker Architecture Prize