Notes to editors
Notes to editors:
1. For further press information contact Melanie Mayfield in the RIBA Press Office on 020 7307 3662 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. The RIBA International Fellows honour was created in 2006. It replaces the RIBA Honorary Fellowship for non-UK architects whose outstanding work the RIBA wishes to mark. All existing non-UK architect Honorary Fellows were invited to become International Fellows. Odile Decq, Kazuyo Sejima, Herman Hertzberger, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, Alvaro Siza, Kenzo Tange, Yoshio Taniguchi and Peter Zumthor, amongst many others, have all been previously awarded this honour.
3. The RIBA Trust manages the cultural assets of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), including the internationally recognised collections of the British Architectural Library. It is the UK’s national architecture centre, delivering the RIBA Awards and RIBA Stirling Prize (broadcast on Channel 4); the Royal Gold Medal; International and Honorary Fellowships;; a full programme of lectures, exhibitions, tours and other events; and an education programme.
4. The full RIBA International Fellowships citations follow:
Alejandro Aravena was born in 1967 and studied at the Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago, where he now teaches. He set up in practice in 1994 and has been Executive Director of Elemental SA since 2006. Instead of building up an office he collaborates with other architects on a project-by-project basis. He describes his practice as a ‘do-tank’ (as opposed to a think-tank) do-tank that “contributes to improve the quality of life in Chilean cities, providing state of the art architecture and engineering, understanding the city as an unlimited resource to build social equity”. In order to get things on his social and political agendas done, he is as prepared to work with oil companies as he is with academic institutions. He firmly believes that architecture can help create social equality.
His work includes a House for a Sculptor (1998), the Mathematics Faculty (1999), the Huelquen Montessori School (2001), a House on Pirehueico Lake (2004), the Elemental Quinta Monroy (social housing), Iquique (2004); the Medical Faculty (2004), the Architecture School (2004) and the Siamese Towers (2005), these latter three for his alma mater the Universidad Católica; the new residence and dining hall for St Edward’s University in Austin, Texas (2008), new children workshops and training facilities for Vitra in Weil am Rhein (2008), and social housing and urban projects for Elemental – working with civil engineer Andrés Iacobelli on prefabricated housing systems. Aravena was recently one of a 100 architects from 27 countries invited by Herzog & de Meuron to take part in the Ordos 100, a project in which each architect was given 100 days to create a 1000 square metre house in Ordos, Inner Mongolia. The whole project was curated by the Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei of Fake Design. With the new residence and dining hall for St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas – he takes inspiration from the work done by Alvar Aalto and Louis Kahn on other college campuses.
In 2009 he won the American Marcus Prize for emerging talents, in the words of the jury, ‘because of his remarkable commitment to a socially driven agenda combined with an almost lyrical appreciation of architectural craft and form.’ And he has served on the Pritzker Prize jury.
He has previously won a prize at the Venice Biennale, has been a finalist in the Mies van der Rohe Award (2000), and the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture (2008).
He is the author of three books on architecture and has had his work published in the UK (Icon), Italy (Domus), Germany (Detail), Portugal, Russia, China, the Netherlands, France and the United States (AR). His work has been exhibited in Harvard, Sao Paulo, Milan and Venice.
He has lectured in Barcelona, Sao Paulo, Venice, New York, Washington, and at the RIBA in London and has been a Visiting Professor at Harvard.
Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio
Diller Scofidio + Renfro is a New York City-based architectural firm founded by Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio. Elizabeth was born in Lodz, Poland and studied at the Cooper Union School of Architecture. She is now Professor of Architecture at Princeton. Ricardo was born in New York City and also studied at Cooper Union, where he is a Professor Emeritus. As a practice they take an interdisciplinary approach to architecture. Their influence stems as much, if not more, from their contributions to the theory and criticism of architecture as from their built works. These are sometimes in the form of written work, but more often are in the form of installation art, video art or electronic art. Charles Renfro joined the practice in 1997 and was made a partner in 2004. Since then they have been known as Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
They began in the 1980s with set designs and installations. Their first built work – and then it never outgrew its foundations – was the Slow House, a modest private residence on Long Island in 1990 (the client ran out of money). In 2002, they completed the Blur Building, a lake pavilion entirely enveloped in mist, at the Swiss Expo 2002. 31,400 jets sprayed drops of lake water so small that most of them remained suspended in the air. This ‘fleeting sculpture’ was visible in all weathers. In 2003, they were the subject of a major retrospective at the Whitney Museum entitled SCANNING: The Aberrant Architectures of Diller + Scofidio. The firm has also designed the new building for the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and worked on the redevelopment of Lincoln Center in New York City. In the summer of 2009, they opened the High Line, a park in New York City built on a stretch of an abandoned elevated train viaduct 20 feet above the street.
Diller and Scofidio may well be the only formally recognized geniuses in architecture – being the only architects ever to have won MacArthur Foundation Genius Award in 2004; more conventionally they are recognized as academicians of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Diller and Scofidio demonstrate how new ways of thinking can really cut across the divide and become mainstream and relevant. As practitioners, from their early speculations within academia to their recently realised projects they have remained committed to the highest level of thinking and design and are an inspiration for a time when the quality of ideas is always under pressure. For them architecture is as much about the nature of space as it is about creating spaces. As cultural theorists it is their duty to remind us that architecture is everywhere.
Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara – Grafton Architects
Grafton Architects have for more than 30 years been one of Ireland’s leading practices and one of the most significant female-led practices in Europe.
Established in 1978, Grafton Architects are recognized nationally and internationally for the production of buildings and urban interventions of a consistently high standard, having won over 20 awards and several competitions. The work of the practice has been exhibited in Paris, Zurich, Madrid, Barcelona (under the auspices of the European Union Mies van der Rohe Prize for Contemporary Architecture), London and at the 2002 Venice Architecture Biennale and has featured in many international publications.
Grafton Architects have developed a rigorous and sensitive approach to building in the city, believing strongly that careful research is crucial in order that latent urban potential is nurtured in a manner that sustains and builds upon the essential character of places in the city. This expertise has been developed through significant projects in a wide range of complex urban and social situations. Grafton Architects, as founding members of Group 91, played a central role in the regeneration of Dublin’s Temple Bar through participation in the formulation of the Framework Plan and the design and construction of the Temple Bar Square Building and Public Space. In recent years, the practice has undertaken several projects and competitions at a scale demanding the development of frameworks for urban intervention, such as the Bocconi University Project in the heart of Milan, Italy; in Ireland a feasibility study for a large-scale landscape, infrastructure and campus proposal for an extensive Scribblestown site; social housing projects in North King Street, South Earl Street and in Ballymun; the Meath Arts Centre in Navan; New Government Offices on St Stephen's Green; the design of an extensive community facility on a 10-acre site in Trim, Co Meath and several significant bridge and transport infrastructure projects in collaboration with Roughan O'Donovan, one of which will notably improve the currently quotidian experience of visitors to Dublin’s airport; in Norway the Bjorvika Office and Housing Competition in Oslo; in France the Magasins Généraux Competition in Paris.
Grafton Architects’ Universita Luigi Bocconi building in Milan, Italy, was named as the first World Building of the Year at the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona. It was also the first building by an Irish practice to become one of the five finalists in the European Prize for Contemporary Architecture Mies van der Rohe Award in 2009. This is really a piece of city, fronting on to a busy street and providing a window on the students’ activities in the market place within.
Shelley was a incisive judge for the 2008 RIBA Stirling Prize.
Francis Kéré is a young architect from Burkina Faso in West Africa who studied in Germany. Assisted by his friends, during his study he founded the Schulbausteine für Gando Association whose main aims are to create buildings that meet climatic demands, and to support the Burkinabe people in their development.
Since 1999 Francis Kéré has taken part in numerous national and international conferences and has given lectures at several European universities. The projects he has been running since 2001 as an independent designer are situated worldwide - from Burkina Faso to India.
In 2004 a primary school he designed for his home village of Gando, won the highly prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture. In 2009 he was one of the five finalists in the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture whose purpose is ‘to honour annually five living architects who move towards sustainability. One of these is commissioned to design a building for a new permanent collection of sustainable architecture which the Regional Government of Seine-Aval is developing adjacent the Villa Savoye at Poissy.
Besides his occupation as a self-employed planner Francis Kéré has been working as a lecturer in the Habitat Unit at the Technische Universität Berlin since 2004. His main subjects are housing and urban development, strategies of climatically advantageous building, sustainable utilization of materials, integration of local labour force, and local construction techniques. All these topics he has considered in numerous articles in international specialist journals and books.
But Francis Kéré does not limit himself to architecture. Through his association he tries to provide the people of his homeland with innovative development projects and with better future prospects thereby. This means providing facilities for adult education, health care, and economic support for women who bear the greatest share of family and social burdens in his country. Consequently his motto is help to self-help. He is not an architect who believes in imposing his ideas and his methods on others, instead he works with them to build houses and schools that will, as he modestly puts it, ‘survive several rainy seasons’.
In his presentation at the Cité de l'architecture in Paris to the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture jury he said, ‘Please do not put one of our villages under the UN convention. A traditional dwelling is made to grow or shrink as needed and, if the house collapses, it is reconstructed in two days.’ What we must not do, he was saying, was to seduce people into air-conditioned buildings in countries which have nothing. Diébédo Francis Kéré is a role model for all architects who aspire to use the term sustainable of their work.
Valerio Olgiati was born in 1958 and studied architecture at the ETH Zürich. Having lived and worked first in Zürich and later in Los Angeles for some years, in 1996 he opened his own practice in Zürich and in 2008 in Flims. His work is the subject of half a dozen monographs. 1993 he was awarded the German Architecture Prize Appreciation Honour, three times he has been awarded the prize for the Best Building in Switzerland and in 2001 he received the Swiss Concrete Award. As guest professor he has taught at ETH Zürich, at AA London and at Cornell University, New York. Since 2002 he has been a full professor at the Accademia di Architettura Mendrisio at the Università della Svizzera Italiana.
His projects include: Das Gelbe Haus in Flims (1995-99) - Formerly the house of his architect father, Rudolf, it became an exhibition space after his father’s death. The building was gutted, stripped back to stone and the roof replaced with randomly shaped stones. A new interior timber structure was painted white and the external walls repainted white according to his father’s wishes, though the building retained the name The Yellow House.
The National Palace Museum in Taiwan (2004) - Built around two courtyards at the of heart of each of which is a pool. The visitor enters at ground floor level via the diagonal of one courtyard and spiral staircases lead up to a spacious lobby with galleries off.
A house for a Musician in Scharans (2005-7) – The building occupies just one third of the footprint of the old barn it replaces. This ‘missing volume’ is defined by red concrete walls which are embossed with abstract patterns.
Architectural office at Flims (2008) - The striking black exterior and interiors of his own office result from his belief that dark interiors make for a better appreciation of the exterior world from within, creating more extrovert, public spaces.
The Museum for the Swiss National Park in Zernez (2009) with its unique spatial mirroring is made of white concrete with bronze detailing – two boxes mounted on a plinth and just touching. Inside is a labyrinth of identical rooms. Even the handrail on the escape stair is in beautifully detailed bronze.
Still to come is Perm XXI, a competition winning entry for a museum in Perm, Russia, which he won jointly with the Moscow firm Bernaskoni. It a 60m-tall structure of stacked tiers of varying heights and widths, each with a scalloped, white concrete frieze serving as a structural and decorative device. It appears to mark a new direction.
In March 2009 Olgiati gave one of the lectures in the Le Corbusier Talks series at the RIBA, discussing three built and one unbuilt projects. An accompanying exhibition, also at Portland Place, based on seven schemes, explored Olgiati's rigorous conceptual design framework through a series of spectacular plaster models at a scale of 1:33, accompanied by photographs and renderings. These highlighted thematic issues in his work such as choice and use of materials, the importance of high-quality craftsmanship, his attitude to structure and the formal clarity of design. Also included were key images, described as his personal musée imaginaire, providing insights into the influences and decisive stages of his design process.