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Some Unexpected Certainty

叶霖耘Lerra Ye 2017-05-17 16:30

The humbles

In 1987, three newly graduated Spanish youths decided to return to their small hometown of Olot in Catalonia, Spain. While some may see this as a poor choice, it was nonetheless the result of careful deliberation. Just a year later, they established an architecture rm with their initials - thus RCR Arquitectes was born. At that time, they would not have imagined that one day their humble venture would receive the highest honour in their field.

Coincidentally, their ages t perfectly in an arithmetic progression: in that year, Carme Pigem was 26, Rafael Aranda was 27 and Ramon Vilalta was 28. All of them had graduated from Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura del Vallès, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya.

In the next three decades, they worked closely together with a deliberate and thoughtful approach to architecture. Most of their works are in the surrounding regions of Catalonia, ranging from libraries, wineries, natural parks, sports venues, and more. But regardless of whether it’s a public building or private house, cultural venue or educational institution, the funda- mental spirit remains the same. Their works intensely relate to the environment speci c to each site, admirably ful lling the traditional requirements of architecture for physical and spatial beauty along with function and craftsmanship.


The Soulages Museum, located in Rodez, south France, is probably RCR Arquitectes’s most famous piece of work. The entire museum resembles a neat square box cantilevering over the site. On this oversea project, the architects created a transparent yet reserved overall impression by garnishing the exterior with a mixture of rusty metals and massive application of glass, presenting an impact which is visually stunning. The precisely right ratio of scale and overhang brings the museum in dialogue with the landscape. When designing the museum for Pierre Soulages's pieces, the abstract artist who painted with light, the architects internalized natural topography, light, seasons, colours, cultures and customs as part of the building. RCR explained, “All the inherent objects in this world could not be stolen. The relationship between our work with the museum and the natural surroundings also symbolizes the relationship between Soulages and Rodez.”


In balancing the relationship between El Petit Comte (akindergarten)anditsnaturalsurroundings,thearchitects skillfully applied brightly coloured Plexiglass to seclude classrooms from yard and yard from the outside. All the functional spaces are designed around the yard and in this way every area is provided with cozy natural light. Through the gaps amid the colourful  Plexiglass, children in the classroom can see mountains. RCR created a warm and cordial growing shelter for kids and teachers with their dedicated design. It’s simultaneously safe,close to nature and full of life.

As RCR remarked, “it’s a space as close to nature as possible that could make us realize, we human are part of the nature too.”


The “Nobody”

Long before winning the Pritzker Prize, RCR Arquitectes had already won approval across Europe. They were recipients of the 2005 National Award for Culture in Architecture granted by the government of Catalonia, the French Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in both 2008 and 2014, and the Gold Medal by the French Académie d’Architecture in 2015. They are also Honorary Fellows of the American Institute of Architecture (2010) and International Fellows of the Royal Institute of British Architects (2012). They impeccably did their work but they’re de nitely not what you call a publicity hound. That’s why their names were widely unheard before the prize announcement. The three fellow architects sticks to their own principles of being simple, pragmatic, professional, and prudent. Even at the beginning of their business, they resolutely rejected a request to design a 300-apartment complex. On an architecture forum in Czech, 2014, Carme Pigem explained their reasoning:“you have to turn down the first large customer.


When, as beginning architects, you are approached by someone offering you a gigantic project in an immensely attractive place, turn them down. It is a trap. Many talented architects spent the rst years of their careers chasing a chimera. The result was only an enormous amount of wasted energy, which they could have invested into small but meaningful projects.” They know it well that over-ambition would result in awful mess. Hence, they remain based in Olot. Their path to success is a lengthy one, but one that's loaded with deliberation.


Despite their low key approach to publicity and taking on assignments, the Pritzker judges could clearly see attentive devotions on which they comment, “harmonizing materiality with transparency, Aranda, Pigem and Vilalta seek connections between the exterior and interior, resulting in emotional and experiential architecture... They also help us to see, in a most beautiful and poetic way, that localization and globalization is not a ‘either/or’ question and that we can, at least in architecture, aspire to have both; our roots rmly in place and our arms outstretched to the rest of the world” They are architects who greatly respect the history and nature, and adhere to small-scale teamwork. Such “stubbornness”, in Wang Shu’s words, is also an interpretation of con dence.

Fourteen years ago in a self-answered question, the RCR architects asked,“to be a legend or nobody?” The answer was,“they are the same thing in their own right.”


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