8 Buildings That Show How a Small Spanish Firm Won the 2017 Pritzker Prize

It was announced yesterday that three Spanish architects (Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramon Vilalta) were awarded the 2017 Pritzker Prize. The news that the trio — who founded the firm RCR Arquitectes in 1988 — had won was certainly a surprise to many in the architecture community.

As one might expect, it would take something significant for a lesser-known firm to be awarded the Pritzker, a prize considered by many to be the Nobel in architecture. Something, perhaps, that was bigger than the buildings themselves. Which, according to the Pritzker committee, is exactly what RCR Architectes had accomplished. "Mr. Aranda, Ms. Pigem, and Mr. Vilalta have had an impact on the discipline far beyond their immediate area," the jurors stated. “In this day and age,” they continued, “there is an important question that people all over the world are asking, and it is not just about architecture; it is about law, politics, and government as well. We live in a globalized world where we must rely on international influences, trade, discussion, transactions, etc. But more and more people fear that, because of this international influence, we will lose our local values, our local art, and our local customs. They are concerned and sometimes frightened.”

And since the Pritzker Prize is awarded not on a single design but on a body of work, here are eight buildings that showcase RCR Arquitectes' staggeringly diverse abilities:

1. El Petit Comte Kindergarten (Catalonia, Spain)

Photo: Getty Images/Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Photo: Getty Images/Yann Arthus-Bertrand

The multicolor Kindergarten El Petit Comte was completed in 2010 by RCR Arquitectes in collaboration with architect Joan Puigcorbé.

2. Gallery of Bell-lloc Winery (Palamós, Spain)

Photo: Courtesy of Eugeni Pons

Photo: Courtesy of Eugeni Pons

Completed in 2007, the Gallery of Bell-lloc Winery almost seems part of the soil. The earthy tones throughout the structure make you feel as if you were walking among the vines that produce the wine.

3. Soulages Museum (Rodez, France)

Photo: Courtesy of RCR Arquitectes

Photo: Courtesy of RCR Arquitectes

The Soulages Museum, which was completed in 2014, was built in homage to the work of the French abstract artist Pierre Soulages. The space is meant to blend seamlessly into its environment by way of metal and glass curtain walls. 

4. Casa Entremuros (Carballo, Spain)

Photo: Courtesy of RCR Arquitectes

Photo: Courtesy of RCR Arquitectes

This house was transformed from a historic building into a modern dwelling. The minimalist environment means that anything happening outside the enormous windows becomes the real spectacle, not what's happening within.

5. Crematorium Hofheide (Holsbeek, Belgium)

Photo: Courtesy of David Cardelús

Photo: Courtesy of David Cardelús

RCR Arquitectes teamed with Belgian firm Coussée & Goris Architecten to design this crematorium, completed in 2013. The structure, which won a design competition, was built of concrete, which was tinted to have an earthier effect.

6. Layetana Corporate HQ (Barcelona)

Courtesy of Eugeni Pons

Courtesy of Eugeni Pons

Constructed in 2010, this office building includes a double-skin exterior. The outer section is composed of metal ribs, while the inner portion is made of glass. The result is an efficient means of interior temperature control, which is but one of the reasons the building was eventually granted a LEED Silver certification. 

7. La Lira Theater Public Open Space (Ripoll, Spain)

Courtesy of Eugeni Pons

Courtesy of Eugeni Pons

Designed by RCR Arquitectes in collaboration with Joan Puigcorbé, the structure covers a public space, which is used primarily for theatrical productions. Stuck between two older buildings, the theater faces a river and is connected to the opposite bank by a bridge made from the same material.

8. Biblioteca Sant Antoni–Joan Oliver (Barcelona)

Courtesy of Eugeni Pons

Courtesy of Eugeni Pons

Finished in 2007, this library is a perfect example of mixing old and new styles. The building is located in Barcelona's Eixample district, an area known for its historic streets. Yet the bridge linking two parts of the structure fills in the gap with striking modern architecture.

Which one is your favourite?

Original article published by Architectural Digest