On March 3rd, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara were honored with this year’s Pritzker Architecture Prize. The two architects from Ireland, co-founders of Grafton Studio in  1978 based in Dublin, architects and educators since 1970s, convinced  the jury with a large number of projects including educational, housing, cultural and civic buildings. Along with being named the 2020 Pritzker Architecture Prize winners, the pair were awarded the 2020 RIBA Royal Gold.

The two architects are in constant collaboration with the people of a place and sensible to the environment’s history, architecture language, climate and nature which results that their architecture respects the spirit of the place thus enrichening it. While maintaining their architectural language, each project responds in an individual appropriated way to the commission.

“Architecture could be described as one of the most complex and important cultural activities on the planet,” remarks Farrell. “To be an architect is an enormous privilege. To win this prize is a wonderful endorsement of our belief in architecture.” – Yvonne Farrell

University Campus UTEC Lima, Peru 2015

A special characteristic of the place where the University Campus UTEC is located are the steep cliffs which constitute a line between the city and the sea. The building site is situated between a highway and a residential neighborhood. Farrell and McNamara fascinated by the geographical context and aiming to respond to the Urban context, designed a vertical, cascading building which states clearly its presence to the north side facing the highway. The building structure creates volumes of different scales which establish a transition between the large building and the human scale. Open interspaces in the structure allow natural cooling by the ocean breezes.

Université Toulouse 1 Capitole, School of Economics, France 2019

The city of Toulouse is characterized by its numerous of bridges, city walls, promenades and stone towers. The architecture of the University reinterprets this characteristic feature. With its brick buttresses, passages, ramps and courtyards a variety of (inter-)spaces throughout all levels is created.  The building is organized in a way that provides optimal working conditions through natural light and ventilation.

Offices for the Department of Finance Dublin, Ireland 2009

The fundamental concept of the Office-building for the Department of Finance in Dublin is rooted in its immediate urban context, relating to the particular qualities of the public park and other significant elements of the site. It belongs to a tradition of buildings in Dublin, where significant buildings negotiate dramatic changes in scale at junctions in streetscape throughout the city. The Office-building with its panorama windows to all the sides can profit through the seasons from the Irish sun and therefore stands out from the urban context.

Universita Luigi Bocconi Milan, Italy 2008

The two architects intended to design the University Luigi Bocconi within the urban scales. Due to its cultural value they conceptualized the building’s hall as a connection between the lively city and the institutional world. This transitional space is the public hall of the auditorium Magna sheltered by the sunken volume of the auditorium but connected to the city by a wide glass façade.

Institut Mines-Télécom Paris-Saclay, France 2019

The University Campus of the Institute Mines-Télécom consists of courtyards and halls connected and overlapping one another. The rooms for scholar activities and the professors’ and directors’ offices are arranged around these open spaces. The language of this architecture is referring to the one of traditional educational institutions such as the Harvard or Oxford University.

Urban Institute of Ireland, Dublin 2002

The building consists of two layers that combine to form a spatial tartan grid. The two-storey ‘ground layer’ is stratified in the east-west direction, establishing layers of privacy. The ‘sky layer’ of roof lights works in the opposite, north-south direction, visually and volumetrically stitching the spaces together again and gently subverting the zoning requirements inherent in the brief. This tension – between the stratifying layer and the stitching layer – resulted in a surprising degree of spatial complexity.”

Source: pritzkerprize.com & graftonarchitects.ie

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