News

Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal Receive the 2021 Pritzker Architecture Prize

Chicago, IL (March 16, 2021) — Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal, of France, have been selected as the 2021 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureates, announced Tom Pritzker, Chairman of The Hyatt Foundation, which sponsors the award that is known internationally as architecture’s highest honor.

“Good architecture is open—open to life, open to enhance the freedom of anyone, where anyone can do what they need to do,” says Lacaton. “It should not be demonstrative or imposing, but it must be something familiar, useful and beautiful, with the ability to quietly support the life that will take place within it.”

Through their design of private and social housing, cultural and academic institutions, public spaces, and urban developments, Lacaton and Vassal reexamine sustainability in their reverence for pre-existing structures, conceiving projects by first taking inventory of what already exists. By prioritizing the enrichment of human life through a lens of generosity and freedom of use, they are able to benefit the individual socially, ecologically and economically, aiding the evolution of a city.

“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,” states the 2021 Jury Citation, in part.

The architects increase living space exponentially and inexpensively, through winter gardens and balconies that enable inhabitants to conserve energy and access nature during all seasons. Latapie House (Floirac, France 1993) was their initial application of greenhouse technologies to install a winter garden that allowed a larger residence for a modest budget. The east-facing retractable and transparent polycarbonate panels on the back side of the home allow natural light to illuminate the entire dwelling, enlarging its indoor communal spaces from the living room to the kitchen, and enabling ease of climate control.

“This year, more than ever, we have felt that we are part of humankind as a whole. Be it for health, political or social reasons, there is a need to build a sense of collectiveness. Like in any interconnected system, being fair to the environment, being fair to humanity, is being fair to the next generation,” comments Alejandro Aravena, Chair of the Pritzker Architecture Prize Jury. “Lacaton and Vassal are radical in their delicacy and bold through their subtleness, balancing a respectful yet straightforward approach to the built environment.”

On a grander scale, Lacaton and Vassal, alongside Frédéric Druot, transformed La Tour Bois le Prêtre (Paris, France 2011), a 17-story, 96-unit city housing project originally built in the early 1960s. The architects increased the interior square footage of every unit through the removal of the original concrete façade, and extended the footprint of the building to form bioclimatic balconies. Once-constrained living rooms now extend into new terraces as flexible space, featuring large windows for unrestricted views of the city, thus reimagining not only the aesthetic of social housing, but also the intention and possibilities of such communities within the urban geography. This framework was similarly applied to the transformation of three buildings (G, H and I), consisting of 530 apartments, at Grand Parc (Bordeaux, France 2017), with Druot and Christophe Hutin. The transformation resulted in a dramatic visual reinvention of the social housing complex, the modernization of elevators and plumbing, and the generous expansion of all units, some nearly doubling in size, without the displacement of any residents and for one third of the cost of demolishing and building new.

“Our work is about solving constraints and problems, and finding spaces that can create uses, emotions and feelings. At the end of this process and all of this effort, there must be lightness and simplicity, when all that has been before was so complex,” explains Vassal.

The architects rebalance dormant or inefficient rooms to yield open spaces that accommodate greater movement and changing needs, thus lengthening the longevity of the buildings. Their most recent transformation of Palais de Tokyo (Paris, France 2012), after a restoration of the space more than a decade earlier, increased the museum by 20,000 square meters, in part by creating new underground space, and assuring that every area of the building is reserved for the user experience. 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.

Lacaton insists, “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.”

Adhering to a precept of “never demolish”, Lacaton and Vassal undertake restrained interventions to upgrade dated infrastructure while allowing enduring properties of a building to remain. Rather than filling and losing the impressive void of the Atelier de Préfabrication no. 2 (AP2), a postwar shipbuilding facility at the shoreline of a waterfront redevelopment project, the architects chose to erect a second building, identical in shape and size to the first. They used transparent, prefabricated materials, resulting in unhindered views through the new to the old. The original landmark, designated for public programming, and the newer structure, FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais (Dunkerque, France 2013), housing galleries, offices and storage for the regional collections of contemporary art, can function independently or collaboratively. They are connected by an internal street located in the void between the two structures.

Much of their work encompasses new buildings, and the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Nantes (Nantes, France 2009) exemplifies the significance of freedom of use. To accommodate the range of pedagogies necessary for its growing student body, the plot was maximized and the architects were able to almost double the space outlined in the brief and do so within budget. Located at the bank of the Loire River, this large-scale, double-height, three-story building features a concrete and steel frame encased in retractable polycarbonate walls and sliding doors. Areas of various sizes exist throughout, and all spaces are deliberately unprescribed and adaptable. An auditorium can open to extend into the street, and high ceilings create generous spaces necessary for construction workshops. Even the wide, sloping ramp that connects the ground to the 2,000 square meter functional rooftop is intended as a flexible learning and gathering space.

“Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal have always understood that architecture lends its capacity to build a community for all of society,” remarks Pritzker. “Their aim to serve human life through their work, demonstration of strength in modesty, and cultivation of a dialogue between old and new, broadens the field of architecture.”

Significant works also include Cap Ferret House (Cap Ferret, France 1998), 14 social houses for Cité Manifeste (Mulhouse, France 2005); Pôle Universitaire de Sciences de Gestion (Bordeaux, France 2008); low-rise apartments for 53 units (Saint-Nazaire, France 2011), a multipurpose theater (Lille, 2013), Ourcq-Jaurès student and social housing (Paris, France 2013); a 59-unit social housing development at Jardins Neppert (Mulhouse, France 2014–2015); and a residential and office building in Chêne-Bourg (Geneva, Switzerland 2020).

They established their practice, Lacaton & Vassal, in Paris in 1987, and have completed over 30 projects throughout Europe and West Africa. Lacaton and Vassal are the 49th and 50th Laureates of the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

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Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal
Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal, photo courtesy of Laurent Chalet

For more information about The Pritzker Architecture Prize, please contact:
Eunice Kim
Director of Communications
The Pritzker Architecture Prize
eunicekim@pritzkerprize.com

 

 

 

 

 

Images for Download

The following are images of the architecture of Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal.

These images may be downloaded and distributed only in relation to the announcement of Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal being named the 2021 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureates.

The photographer/photo libraries/artists must be credited if noted.

All images are copyright of the respective photographers and artists cited, and courtesy of the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Click on each image to download a high-resolution file.

Captions for these images are in the 2021 Image Book, available here.
Download the 2021 Media Kit here.

Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal
Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal, photo courtesy of Laurent Chalet
Latapie House
Latapie House, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
Latapie House
Latapie House, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
Latapie House
Latapie House, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
Latapie House
Latapie House, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
Cap Ferret House
Cap Ferret House, photo courtesy of Lacaton & Vassal
Cap Ferret House
Cap Ferret House, photo courtesy of Lacaton & Vassal
Cap Ferret House
Cap Ferret House, photo courtesy of Lacaton & Vassal
House in Bordeaux
House in Bordeaux, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
House in Bordeaux
House in Bordeaux, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Nantes
École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Nantes, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Nantes
École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Nantes, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Nantes
École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Nantes, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Nantes
École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Nantes, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
53 Units, Low-Rise Apartments, Social Housing
53 Units, Low-Rise Apartments, Social Housing, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
53 Units, Low-Rise Apartments, Social Housing
53 Units, Low-Rise Apartments, Social Housing, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
53 Units, Low-Rise Apartments, Social Housing
53 Units, Low-Rise Apartments, Social Housing, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
Transformation of 100 Units, Tour Bois le Prêtre, Social Housing (with Frédéric Druot)
Transformation of 100 Units, Tour Bois le Prêtre, Social Housing (with Frédéric Druot), photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
Transformation of 100 Units, Tour Bois le Prêtre, Social Housing (with Frédéric Druot)
Transformation of 100 Units, Tour Bois le Prêtre, Social Housing (with Frédéric Druot), photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
Site for Contemporary Creation, Phase 2, Palais de Tokyo
Site for Contemporary Creation, Phase 2, Palais de Tokyo, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault

 

Site for Contemporary Creation, Phase 2, Palais de Tokyo
Site for Contemporary Creation, Phase 2, Palais de Tokyo, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
Site for Contemporary Creation, Phase 2, Palais de Tokyo
Site for Contemporary Creation, Phase 2, Palais de Tokyo, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
129 Units, Ourcq-Juarès Student and Social Housing
129 Units, Ourcq-Juarès Student and Social Housing, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
129 Units, Ourcq-Juarès Student and Social Housing
129 Units, Ourcq-Juarès Student and Social Housing, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
129 Units, Ourcq-Juarès Student and Social Housing
129 Units, Ourcq-Juarès Student and Social Housing, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais
FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais
FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais
FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais
FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
Multipurpose Theater
Multipurpose Theater, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
Multipurpose Theater
Multipurpose Theater, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
Multipurpose Theater
Multipurpose Theater, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
Multipurpose Theater
Multipurpose Theater, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
Multipurpose Theater
Multipurpose Theater, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
Transformation of G, H, I buildings, Grand Parc, 530 Units, Social Housing (with Frédéric Druot and Christophe Hutin)
Transformation of G, H, I Buildings, Grand Parc, 530 Units, Social Housing (with Frédéric Druot and Christophe Hutin), photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
Transformation of G, H, I buildings, Grand Parc, 530 Units, Social Housing (with Frédéric Druot and Christophe Hutin)
Transformation of G, H, I Buildings, Grand Parc, 530 Units, Social Housing (with Frédéric Druot and Christophe Hutin), photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
Transformation of G, H, I buildings, Grand Parc, 530 Units, Social Housing (with Frédéric Druot and Christophe Hutin)
Transformation of G, H, I Buildings, Grand Parc, 530 Units, Social Housing (with Frédéric Druot and Christophe Hutin), photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
Transformation of G, H, I buildings, Grand Parc, 530 Units, Social Housing (with Frédéric Druot and Christophe Hutin)
Transformation of G, H, I Buildings, Grand Parc, 530 Units, Social Housing (with Frédéric Druot and Christophe Hutin), photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
Residential and Office Building
Residential and Office Building, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
Residential and Office Building
Residential and Office Building, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault
Residential and Office Building
Residential and Office Building, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault

Ceremony Videos

Below are links to view ceremony videos for the Pritzker Architecture Prize.
These videos, featuring full-length and highlight reels, are also available by
visiting the individual Laureate sections.

 

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara
2020 Laureates
Online Ceremony
Ceremony videos

 

Arata Isozaki
2019 Laureate
Château de Versailles, Versailles, France
Ceremony videos

 

Balkrishna Doshi
2018 Laureate
Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, Canada
Ceremony videos

 

Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta
2017 Laureates
State Guest House, Akasaka Palace, Tokyo, Japan
Ceremony videos

 

Alejandro Aravena
2016 Laureate
United Nations Headquarters, New York, New York
Ceremony videos

 

Frei Otto
2015 Laureate
The New World Center, Miami Beach, Florida, USA
Ceremony videos

 

Shigeru Ban
2014 Laureate
The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Ceremony videos

 

Toyo Ito
2013 Laureate
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum,
Boston, Massachusetts
Ceremony videos

 

Wang Shu
2012 Laureate
The Great Hall of the People, Beijing, 
The People’s Republic of China
Ceremony videos

 

Eduardo Souto de Moura
2011 Laureate
The Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, Washington D.C.
Ceremony videos

 

Kazuyo Sejima & Ryue Nishizawa
2010 Laureates
Immigration Museum, Ellis Island, New York Bay
Ceremony videos

 

Peter Zumthor
2009 Laureate
Palace of the Buenos Aires City Legislature,
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Ceremony videos
 

Jean Nouvel
2008 Laureate
The Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Ceremony videos

 

Richard Rogers
2007 Laureate
Banqueting House, Whitehall Palace, London, United Kingdom
Ceremony videos

 

Paulo Mendes da Rocha
2006 Laureate
Dolmabahçe Palace, Istanbul, Turkey
Ceremony videos


Thom Mayne
2005 Laureate
Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Chicago, Illinois
Ceremony videos


Zaha Hadid
2004 Laureate
State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia
Ceremony videos


Jørn Utzon
2003 Laureate
Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, Madrid, Spain
Ceremony videos


Glenn Murcutt
2002 Laureate
Michelangelo’s Campidoglio, Rome, Italy
Ceremony videos

 

Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron
2001 Laureates
Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia
Ceremony videos


Rem Koolhaas
2000 Laureate
Jerusalem Archaeological Park, Israel
Ceremony videos


 
 
 
 

Norman Foster
1999 Laureate
Altes Museum, Berlin, Germany
Ceremony videos

 

Renzo Piano
1998 Laureate
The White House, Washington, D.C.
Ceremony videos

 

Sverre Fehn
1997 Laureate
The construction site of the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain
Ceremony videos

 

Rafael Moneo
1996 Laureate
The construction site of the Getty Center, Los Angeles, California
Ceremony videos

 

Tadao Ando
1995 Laureate
Grand Trianon and the Palace of Versailles, France
Ceremony videos

 

Christian de Portzamparc
1994 Laureate
The Commons, Columbus, Indiana
Ceremony videos

 

Fumihiko Maki
1993 Laureate
Prague Castle, Czech Republic
Ceremony videos

 

Alvaro Siza
1992 Laureate
Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago, Illinois
Ceremony videos

 

Robert Venturi
1991 Laureate
Palacio de Iturbide, Mexico City, Mexico
Ceremony videos

 

Aldo Rossi
1990 Laureate
Palazzo Grassi, Venice, Italy
Ceremony videos

 

Frank Gehry
1989 Laureate
Todai-ji Buddhist Temple, Nara, Japan
Ceremony videos

 

Gordon Bunshaft &
Oscar Niemeyer
1988 Laureates
Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois
Bunshaft ceremony videos
Niemeyer ceremony videos

 

Kenzo Tange
1987 Laureate
Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas
Ceremony videos

 

Gottfried Böhm
1986 Laureate
Goldsmiths’ Hall, London, United Kingdom
Ceremony videos

 

Hans Hollein
1985 Laureate
Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens
San Marino, California
Ceremony videos

 

Richard Meier
1984 Laureate
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Ceremony videos

 

I.M. Pei
1983 Laureate
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York
Ceremony videos

 

Kevin Roche
1982 Laureate
Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois
Ceremony videos

 

James Stirling
1981 Laureate
National Building Museum, Washington, D.C.
Ceremony videos

 

Luis Barragán
1980 Laureate
Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C.
Ceremony videos

 

Philip Johnson
1979 Laureate
Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C.
Ceremony videos

Archive

The Pritzker Architecture Prize, founded in 1979, seeks to maintain many of the documents, images, videos, and other materials related to its history. If you have a specific query about rights and reproductions or other media-related questions, please contact Director of Communications Eunice Kim. For all other inquiries, please contact Executive Director Manuela Lucá-Dazio.

Archive - Richard Rogers
Terminal 4, Madrid Barajas Airport, Madrid, Spain, 2005, Richard Rogers