Take in These Stunning Architectural Designs from Unexpected 2017 Pritzker Prize Winners

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Take in These Stunning Architectural Designs from Unexpected 2017 Pritzker Prize Winners

Three little-known Catalonian architects have won architecture’s highest honor, the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta of RCR Arquitectes won the award for their celebration of local topography and their incorporation of their steel and glass designs into the natural environment.

The Pritzker Prize, created in 1979 by the controversial Pritzker family, is often described as the Nobel Prize of architecture. Typically, the award goes to high-profile celebrity designers, such as Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel and Frank Gehry. By honoring the largely unknown Spanish trio and their inclusion of both familiar and contemporary forms, the Pritzker Prize jury is making a subtle political statement. The jury explains they chose RCR Arquitectes because they “help us to see, in a most beautiful and poetic way, that the answer to the question is not ‘either/or’ and that we can, at least in architecture, aspire to have both; our roots firmly in place and our arms outstretched to the rest of the world.” It’s an easy-going, fairly safe message of openness in architecture. However, it would be a mistake to say the team only won because of politics. They won because their designs are incredible.

Putting aside the potential politics behind the decision and the eyebrow-raising past actions of the Pritzker family, the RCR Arquitectes trio’s designs are undeniably brilliant. Aranda, Pigem and Vilalta have been working together for the past 30 years, and their cohesiveness as partners and friends is reflected in their work. Dark, rust-colored steel, bamboo forest-like structures and towering glass panels appear both distinctly contemporary and exceptionally natural within the Catalonian countryside. Some of their more notable works include a winery, a small museum, a laboratory and a brightly colored elementary school. You can watch a short video of the trio discussing their creation process below, and click through the gallery above to see the winning team’s breathtaking designs.