18 april 2021

Pritzker-prisen 2021 til gjenbruksarkitektur

En av undertegnedes fremste inspirasjonskilder i bokfor er Stewart Brands How Buildings Learn fulgt av en severdig dokumentarserie med samme navn. Bokens undertittel er egentlig poenget: "What Happens After They're Built" og dette bringer oss videre til årets vinnere av Pritzker-prisen, Anne Lacaton og Jean-Philippe Vassal, som jobber nettopp med transformasjon av eksisterende bygninger. 

Prisen har ofte gått til de store stjernearkitektene og ikoniske bygg. Et viktig unntak er  den chilenske arkitekten Alejandro Aravena som fikk prisen i 2016. Et lite frempek mot årets pris der nettopp Aravena har ledet juryen.

Gjennom 34 års praksis har Lacaton og Vassal arbeidet under mottoet «Ikke riv, aldri fjern – legg alltid til, transformer og gjenbruk». Tidsånden begynner heldigvis å komme arkitektene i møte og oppmuntrer til å jobbe grundig med det som allerede finnes, for på den måten å komme frem til hvordan bygde omgivelser kan forbedres med minst mulig bruk av ressurser. Det handler selvsagt om gjenbruk, men også om å ta i bruk av enkle materialer og gjøre mer og bedre med mindre bruk av ressurser.

Et av arkitektkontorets mest kjente arbeider er kultursenteret Palais de Tokyo i Paris. Med utgangspunkt en bygning fra 1930-tallet har de skapt et moderne senter for samtidskunst. Etter en radikal ombygging ble den dette bygget åpnet i 2002.

Lacaton og Vassal går hardt ut mot praksiser sin innebærer at eksisterende bygg som fremdeles har et liv fremfor seg rives for at det skal bygegs nytt. Mange vil nok sukke tungt å tenke på Y-blokka og hvordan håndteringen av den saken står seg særdeles dårlig i et gjenbruksperspektiv. 

Det alltid noe positivt å finne når en tar seg tid til å studere et eksisterende bygg og bruke det som utgangspunkt. «Arkitektur kan handle mer og mer om teknologi, bli mer og mer kompleks, mer og mer basert på regelverk, og vi prøver å unngå alt dette» sier arkitekturparet til NYT, ifølge Arkitekturnytt

The work of Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal reflects architecture's democratic spirit. Through their ideas, approach to the profession, and the resulting buildings, they have proven that a commitment to a restorative architecture that is at once technological, innovative, and ecologically responsive can be pursued without nostalgia. This is the mantra of the team of Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal since founding their Paris-based firm in 1987. 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. At once beautiful and pragmatic, they refuse any opposition between architectural quality, environmental responsibility, and the quest for an ethical society.129 Units, Ourcq-Juarès Student and Social Housing, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault

For more than 30 years, their critical approach to architecture has embodied generosity of space, ideas, uses and economy of means, materials, and also of shape and form. This approach has resulted in innovative projects for residential, cultural, educational, and commercial buildings. Since their early projects, including Latapie House, the private house in Bordeaux, and civic works such as the proposal for the Human Science Center in Saint-Denis or the School of Architecture in Nantes, they have shown sensitivity and warmth of experience to their buildings’ users. The architects have expressed that buildings are beautiful when people feel well in them, when the light inside is beautiful and the air is pleasant, and when there is an easy flow between the interior and exterior.

The notion of belonging and being accountable to a larger whole involves not only fellow humans but the planet in general. From very early on, Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal have consistently expanded the notion of sustainability to be understood as a real balance between its economic, environmental and social pillars. Their work has delivered through a variety of projects that actively address responsibility in these three dimensions.House in Bordeaux, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault

The practice begins every project with a process of discovery which includes intensely observing and finding value in what already exists. In the case of the 1996 commission, Léon Aucoc Plaza, their approach was simply to undertake the minimal work of replacing the gravel, treating the lime trees, and slightly modifying the traffic, all to grant renewed potential to what already existed.

In their housing projects for the transformation of the Paris block, Tour Bois le Prêtre, and three blocks in the Grand Parc neighborhood in Bordeaux (both realized with Frédéric Druot), instead of demolition and reconstruction they carefully added space to the existing buildings in the form of generous extensions, winter gardens and balconies that allow for freedom of use and therefore are supportive of the real lives of the residents. There is a humility in the approach that respects the aims of the original designers and the aspirations of the current occupants.

For the cultural center, FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais in Dunkirk, they chose to keep the original hall and attach a second one of similar dimensions to the existing building. Absent is nostalgia for the past. Rather, they seek transparency, openness, and luminosity with a respect for the inherited and a quest to act responsibly in the present. Today, a building that previously went unnoticed becomes an iconic element in a renewed cultural and natural landscape.

Through their belief that architecture is more than just buildings, through the issues they address and the proposals they realize, through forging a responsible and sometimes solitary path illustrating that the best architecture can be humble and is always thoughtful, respectful, and responsible, they have shown that architecture can have a great impact on our communities and contribute to the awareness that we are not alone. For their body of work realized and that of the future, Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal are named the 2021 Pritzker Prize Laureates.

Jury Members

Alejandro Aravena, Chair

Barry Bergdoll
Deborah Berke
Stephen Breyer

André Aranha Corrêa do Lago
Kazuyo Sejima
Wang Shu
Benedetta Tagliabue
Martha Thorne, Executive Director
Manuela Lucá-Dazio, Advisor

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