Pritzker 2021: Lacaton & Vassal

the French Lacaton & Vassal win the prestigious award

Pritzker 2021a Lacaton & Vassal

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Pritzker Prize

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09 April 2021

Pritzker 2021: French Lacaton & Vassal win

Alejandro Aravena, president of the jury of the 2021 Pritzker Prize, called them “architects of a respectful but frank approach to the built environment”. These are the two French architects Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal, who were awarded the Pritzker Prize 2021, one of the greatest architectural awards at an international level. Appreciated for their modus operandi based on the values of sustainability interpreted at 360°, their projects stand out for being measured on human needs and on very limited budgets.

Pritzker prize medaglia per l'architettura
Pritzker prize medaglia per l’architettura

The Pritzker Architecture Prize was introduced in America in 1979, from the foundation of the family of the same name, with the aim of rewarding the most deserving and talented exponents of architecture. Each year the ceremony takes place in a particularly valuable site and is assigned to professionals who are committed to making a strong contribution to the development of urban scenarios, with a view to improving the quality of the places we live. And it is precisely this aspect that is dear to this year’s winners, as their architectures are the result of additions and modifications aimed at enriching the existing without overcoming it.

Straw Mat Hut, Niamey Nigeria – 1984  © Philippe Ruault


The studio’s activity began in the late 1980s in Paris and developed and strengthened over the years. Rich in their multi-cultural background and their training in Africa, Lacaton and Vassal believe that the building intervention must be based on the existing and must be undertaken in full respect of the identity of the place.

According to their thinking, the architect’s task is to find solutions that combine the precepts of environmental sustainability, the client’s needs and the saving of available resources.
And it is precisely these values that form the basis of the works created in the course of their profession. In the design of private and social residences, of buildings intended for training, of urban contexts, an anthropocentric vision has always prevailed, where human needs have defined the characteristics of the spaces.

59 Logements, jardins Neppert, Mulhouse – 2015 – Photo © Philippe Ruault

The generous open areas are placed in continuity with the internal environments of the Social Housing, favoring the optimization of the internal microclimate and socialization among the tenants

The addition of greenery, the reinterpretation of residential environments and the inclusion of new open spaces, become the guidelines of Lacaton and Vassal’s work. These are aspects that characterize that healthy and intelligent building that aims to recover the balance between man and nature, too often lost in today’s cities. All these reasons in fact convinced the Pritzker jury to award them the most coveted prize in the architecture sector.

The relevance of the firm’s guiding values

As already mentioned, the addition of new and unexpected areas and the inclusion of green and open areas helps to improve the user’s quality of life. This concept very dear to Lacaton and Vassal found a growing consensus in this particular period, during which the inhabitants of the cities found themselves forced to stay longer at home.

The places of living thus become the places of life in all its facets and for this reason they must be cared for, enriched and made more flexible.

Retrofit of the Tour Bois Le Pretre residential building
Retrofit of the Tour Bois Le Pretre residential building, Paris 17th – 2015 – Photo © Philippe Ruault

The transformation of the residential complex involved the addition of new open spaces at high altitude which, in addition to renewing the appearance of the facade, guarantee usable areas for condominiums, with a view to increasing their quality of life and psycho-physical comfort

FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais, Dunkerque © Philippe Ruault
FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais, Dunkerque – Photo © Philippe Ruault

Starting from the duplication of the pre-existing volume of the former Halle AP2 boat warehouse, the new building is placed in full respect of the context, distinguishing itself from the adjacent one through a double transparent coating that favors the view of the internal building

To view all the projects of the Lacaton & Vassel studio

Pritzker 2021 a Lacaton & Vassal

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