French architect Manuelle Gautrand has been awarded the 2017 European Prize for Architecture, becoming the first woman to receive the prestigious accolade.
The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture – which jointly present the prize – praised Gautrand and her eponymous practice “for making special places and distinct spaces that celebrate ordinary life in our complex urban cities and our diverse cultural situations.”
She was also hailed for “developing a public and civic architecture that opens up the realm of possibilities for unique space.”
Shaping leisure spaces
Gautrand founded her office in 1991 – first in Lyon and, since 1994, in Paris. Among her firm’s broad portfolio are diverse leisure facilities, including theatres, museums, cultural centres and sports facilities.
In 2011, she converted the Gaîté-Lyrique Theatre into a centre for modern music and digital arts. Last year, she completed the restoration of the historic Gaumont-Alésia cinema in Paris, creating a cultural hub with an eye-catching ‘pixelated’ LED facade. Other projects include the copper-clad Forum sports complex in Alsace, the striking Hipark Hotel in Paris and an extension of the Lille Museum of Modern Art. She is currently working on a civic and cultural centre in Parramatta, Australia.
“Manuelle Gautrand has worked diligently to ‘re-enchant the city’ by reinventing, renewing and innovating a pluralistic design path full of unexpected answers, risk-taking, surprises and architectonic expectations that are bold, refreshing and equally provocative,” said Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, president of the Chicago Athenaeum.
“Her firm understands that architecture and its surroundings are intimately intertwined and knows that the choice of materials and the craft of building are powerful tools for creating lasting and meaningful spaces.
“For these reasons, exemplified in all the firm’s built work, and for the firm’s ability to express the local, but also the universal, uniting us with one another through the art of architecture, Manuelle Gautrand Architecture is awarded the 2017 European Prize for Architecture.”
Speaking to CLAD, Gautrand said: “I’m very happy to receive this prize, especially as it’s a specifically European one. Indeed, I am ardently passionate about Europe, and I consider myself more a European architect than a French one.
“This prize is awarded to architects ‘who have made a commitment to forward the principles of European humanism and the art of architecture’. Since the beginning of my career I have tried to express and emphasise such a commitment, to use my – or I would rather say our – European roots to re-enchant architecture and our cities.”
She added: “This prize comes as a honour, but also as an even bigger driver for me to make European architecture shine.”
Previous European Prize for Architecture laureates include Bjarke Ingels, Graft Architects, Alessandro Mendini and Santiago Calatrava.