RIBA Royal Gold Medal 2017

Paulo Mendes da Rocha

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is delighted to announce that Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Brazil’s most celebrated living architect, will receive the 2017 Royal Gold Medal. 

Given in recognition of a lifetime’s work, the Royal Gold Medal is approved personally by Her Majesty The Queen and is given to a person or group of people who have had a significant influence 'either directly or indirectly on the advancement of architecture'.

Awarded since 1848, past Royal Gold Medallists include Zaha Hadid (2016), Frank Gehry (2000), Norman Foster (1983), Frank Lloyd Wright (1941) and Sir George Gilbert Scott (1859); Oscar Niemeyer (1998) is the only other Brazilian architect to have received the honour.

Born in Vitória, Brazil in 1928, Paulo Mendes da Rocha has received international acclaim for his significant contribution to architecture. Mendes da Rocha’s numerous notable cultural buildings, built in his particular Brazilian Brutalist style with exposed concrete structures and rough finishes, are widely credited with transforming the city of São Paulo. In 1957 he completed his first celebrated building, the Athletic Club of São Paulo, followed by a large number of further public buildings in the city including Saint Peter Chapel (1987), the Brazilian Sculpture Museum MuBE (1988), Patriach Plaza (1992-2002), the Pinacoteca do Estado gallery (1993) and the FIESP Cultural Center (1997). Outside São Paulo, notable buildings include the Serra Dourada football stadium in Goiás (1973), Lady of the Conception Chapel in Recife (2006) and Cais das Artes arts centre in Vitória (2008).

Despite Mendes da Rocha’s international reputation, there have been just a few examples to experience his work outside his home country, with the significant exception of Brazil’s pavilion at Expo ’70 (Osaka, Japan) and Portugal’s National Coach Museum (Lisbon, 2015).

Speaking about the award, RIBA President and chair of the selection committee Jane Duncan said: 'Paulo Mendes da Rocha’s work is highly unusual in comparison to the majority of the world’s most celebrated architects. He is an architect with an incredible international reputation, yet almost all his masterpieces are built exclusively in his home country. Revolutionary and transformative, Mendes da Rocha’s work typifies the architecture of 1950s Brazil – raw, chunky and beautifully ‘brutal’ concrete.

'Paulo Mendes da Rocha is a world-class architect and a true living legend; I am delighted he will be presented with the Royal Gold Medal, one of the world’s most important honours for architecture.'

Paulo Mendes da Rocha said:

'After so many years of work, it is a great joy to receive this recognition from the Royal Institute of British Architects for the contribution my lifetime of work and experiments have given to the progress of architecture and society. I would like to send my warmest wishes to all those who share my passion, in particular British architects, and share this moment with all the architects and engineers that have collaborated on my projects.'

Paulo Mendes da Rocha has previously been honoured with the Mies van der Rohe Prize (2000), Pritzker Prize (2006), the Venice Biennale Golden Lion for lifetime achievement (2016) and the Praemium Imperiale International Arts Award (2016).

The Royal Gold Medal will be presented to Paulo Mendes da Rocha in early 2017.

Ginasio Paulistano Athletic Club


RIBA Honorary Fellowships are awarded annually to people who have made a particular contribution to architecture in its broadest sense. This includes its promotion, administration and outreach; and its role in building more sustainable communities and in the education of future generations.

RIBA International Fellowships reward the particular contributions that non-UK architects have made to architecture.


Johan Celsing

Johan Celsing Arkitektkontor, Sweden
Johan Celsing is an architect practising in Stockholm. He is Professor of Advanced Design at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and an Elected Member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Stockholm. He is an architect who pays close attention to the discipline and craft of architecture. His work is careful and serious; it feels honed and distilled which gives it a kind of poignancy and emotional charge within a calm, quiet language.

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Izaskun Chinchilla

Izaskun Chinchilla Architects, Spain
Izaskun started her Madrid office in 2001 and is currently a Senior Teaching Fellow and Researcher at the Barlett School of Architecture in London. Izaskun has made a great effort to increase the reflection, criticism, ingenuity, responsibility and freedom among architects. Through teaching, workshops, lectures, writings, articles, videos drawings, through visual theorems and more recently through her Facebook platform Izaskun Chinchilla Architects, she constantly shares design reflections that help others look at the profession with a new eye.

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Frederick Cooper

Cooper-Graña-Nicolini Architects (now CGGMS architects), Peru
From 1966 to the present, Frederick has been the senior partner of Cooper-Graña-Nicolini Architects and has completed more than 450 projects & buildings within the private and public sectors. His work and teachings have exerted a significant positive impact on the Peruvian architectural scene over five decades.

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Philip Cox

COX Architecture, Australia
Professor Philip Cox is the doyen of Australian architecture. His career has spanned the range of late 20th century architecture from rustic early houses of the ‘Sydney School’, via hi-tech to tensile structures. Nowadays Cox’s practice employs more than 350 staff and has completed projects in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, China and South-East Asia where he has designed the Helix Bridge and the Marina Bay Promenade, both in Singapore, and the Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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Tom de Paor

dePaor, Ireland
Tom de Paor is the leading Irish architect of his generation. His work has featured 5 times in the Venice Biennale; at the age of 33 in 2000 he was the first architect chosen to represent Ireland. He is a great communicator who teaches in Dublin, London and Harvard. He has worked in collaboration with painters, sculptors, filmmakers in a restless campaign to keep his creativity engaged, widening his ways of working with others to keep him on track in his own practice in architecture.

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Francisco Vieira de Campos and Cristina Guedes

Menos é Mais, Portugal
Francisco Vieira de Campos and Cristina Guedes both graduated from Porto School of Architecture and in 1994 created their studio Menos é Mais. Both teach and have been invited to be critics at Mendrisio Architecture Academy and ETH Zurich, among other schools. Their work is aimed at a quality that involves serenity and a timeless sense of objectivity and craft - best typified by their exquisite Arquipelago Contemporary Arts Centre in the Azores.

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Bijoy Jain

Studio Mumbai, India
Bijoy Jain set up Studio Mumbai in 2005 in search of a better way to communicate with local craftsmen who often could not read drawings. He was seeking to close the gap between design and making, between thought and building and to work more closely with place, tradition and climate. He has received many awards and honours. He is currently working on projects in India, Japan, Switzerland, Australia and France. In 2011 el Croquis published a monograph on his work.

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Siv Helene Stangeland and Reinhard Kropf

Helen Hard, Norway and Austria
Siv Helene Stangeland and Reinhard Kropf elided parts of their names to form Helen & Hard in 1996 in Stavanger, where they still have an office, as well as one in Oslo, employing around 26 mainly young architects from 10 different countries. In 2010, they were chosen to design Norway’s pavilion at the Shanghai Expo – one of the most beautiful structures on the site and in 2013 they were nominated for Mies van der Rohe Prize for European Contemporary Architecture.



Vo Trong Nghia

Vo Trong Nghia Architects, Vietnam
In 2006, he started his firm, Vo Trong Nghia Architects in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The early projects were characterized by bamboo structures. From the first bamboo project, Wind and Water Café, he developed his bamboo construction team through his bamboo buildings. The design approach combined with bamboo treatment and construction brought him global awards and recognition. Nghia has taught at the Singapore University of Technology & Design in 2015 and is currently a visiting professor of Hiroshima Institute of Technology.

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Marie Jose Van Hee

MJose Van Hee Architecten, Belgium
Although known primarily for her domestic buildings her public projects also shape a humanistic vision of architecture and the city, of public space as meeting place. Marie-José Van Hee explores a tradition of building timeless architecture, centred on people, light and space. Marie-José has long been connected with the Architecture Department of Sint-Lucas School of Architecture, is currently visiting professor at the ETH Zurich and has lectured throughout Europe.

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Iwan Baan

Dutch photographer Iwan Baan is known primarily for images that narrate the life and interactions that occur within architecture. After his studies in photography at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague, Baan followed his interest in documentary photography, before narrowing his focus to record the various ways in which individuals, communities and societies create, and interact within their built environment.

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Neil Baxter

Secretary and Treasurer, Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland
Previously Deputy Editor of Architectural Design and principal of his own architectural/interpretation consultancy, Neil Baxter has taught at the Mackintosh School, lectured on urbanism at Glasgow University, written for The Telegraph, Herald, Sunday Herald, Homes & Interiors and AJ and is a frequent media spokesman. CEO of the RIAS since 2008, Neil has overall responsibility for governance, strategy, budgets, membership services, Consultancy, Practice Services, accreditation, events, publications, outreach, political liaison, CPD, educational initiatives and awards.

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Patricia Brown

Director of Central and outgoing Chair of London Festival of Architecture
Patricia Brown’s career has been centred on the common thread of connecting: ideas, issues, places, people and ambition. A significant element of her current and past work is therefore achieving strong partnerships between, and across, the public and private sectors, often based on building a shared vision and ambition to create a better outcome for all.

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Martyn Evans

Deputy Chair, London Festival of Architecture
Martyn Evans runs Uncommon, a property development company. He was, until recently, Creative Director at U+I, the regeneration-focussed property company formed in November 2015 from a merger between specialist mixed-use developer Cathedral Group and listed property company Development Securities PLC. Before joining the Cathedral board in 2011, Martyn worked in the property, regeneration and urban design sectors as a consultant to CABE, The Design Council and Design for London with a particular focus on regeneration through creative industry and cultural engagement.

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Marcus Fairs

Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Dezeen
Marcus is one of architecture’s irrepressible characters with an infectious enthusiasm for the subject that spreads to all those he meets and interviews. The result is a lively journalism that communicates way beyond the traditional bounds of architecture to new audiences. As founder and editor-in-chief of the influential design website Dezeen and previously as editor of Icon he has dedicated his career to the promotion of design and architecture.

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Stephen Howlett

Chief Executive, Peabody
Stephen has been Chief Executive of Peabody since 2004. Founded in 1862, Peabody is one of London’s oldest and largest social housing charities. The Peabody Group now owns and manages 28,000 homes across the capital, and runs a range of employment and community projects. Stephen is one of the Mayor’s Leaders for London on sustainability and an adviser to the Mayor's Infrastructure Delivery Board.

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Razia Iqbal

Journalist, BBC News
Razia is responsible for doing much to heighten public understanding of architecture through her series Dream Builders on the BBC World Service in which she has interviewed some of the world's greatest living architects to discover their vision for our world, discussing their work, their inspirations and the controversies they have aroused. Launched in 2012, the series has so far featured Renzo Piano, Zaha Hadid, Santiago Calatrava, Daniel Libeskind and Norman Foster.

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Jeremy Paul Melvin

Architectural historian and curator
Jeremy Melvin has consistently championed and served the cause of architecture throughout his career. Initially studying architecture he opted to become an historian, going on to teach at South Bank, Cambridge and the Bartlett, with which he remains associated. He channelled his passion for the subject in writing about architecture in way that combined an insider’s understanding of the subject with a rare intellect, an encyclopaedic memory and story-teller’s ear for the anecdote.

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Chair, Bartlett Professor of Architecture, The Bartlett School of Architecture Frédéric Migayrou is Chair, Bartlett Professor of Architecture at The Bartlett School of Architecture and Deputy Director of the National Museum of Art, Centre Pompidou in Paris. He was the founder of the Frac Center Collection and of ArchiLab, the international festival of Prospective Architecture in Orléans. He was the curator of Non Standard Architectures at the Centre Pompidou in 2003, the first exposition devoted to architecture, computation and fabrication.

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Lars Muller is the founder of Lars Muller Publishers based in Zurich, Switzerland which sets the highest possible standards of independent publishing, in terms of content and design, and in doing so refreshes and re- invigorates the discipline. He has opened up boundaries between disciplines and has made internationally significant connections between centres of architectural excellence and research.

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Editor-in-Chief, The Architects' Journal and The Architectural Review
A writer and editor in architectural publishing, Murray began at the Architects’ Journal in 2007 where she was tasked with launching a new review section, The Critics, which saw many established figures, from Joseph Rykwert to William JR Curtis, return to the AJ. In 2012 Christine founded the Women in Architecture Awards, after an online survey revealed the dearth of role models in academia and the profession was disenfranchising young women. Her inspiration, passion and professionalism ensures that the profession has an outstanding communicator for architecture.

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Chief Executive, London Borough of Croydon
Jo has been a regeneration practitioner in the UK for 28 years, after qualifying as a town planner in New South Wales, Australia in 1984. She has a wealth of experience in driving regeneration and delivering development, gained in her previous roles at Newham and Lambeth. From 2014-16 Jo was Executive Director – Place at London Borough of Croydon, responsible for the leading the delivery and management of growth in London's largest borough. Her Honorary Fellowship is in recognition of her outstanding work in the regeneration of Croydon, and her patronage of smaller architects’ practices.

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Secretary General, Architects’ Council of Europe
Ian Pritchard joined the Architects’ Council of Europe (ACE) in January 2012 as Secretary General. In his capacity of a Secretary General Ian represents the ACE, supporting the development and the implementation of the ACE policies, campaigns and advocacy strategies. His Honorary Fellowship is in recognition of his outstanding advocacy, coordination and policy work for architects within the EU.

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Director of Estates, London School of Economics
Julian Robinson is a great client, a modern-day patron of the art of architecture. His track record runs from working with Hawkins Brown, Feilden Clegg Bradley, MacCormac, Jamieson Prichard and Will Alsop at Queen Mary University to Grimshaw, O’Donnell + Tuomey, Rogers Stirk Harbour and Grafton Architects at the LSE. And this record shows a developing dedication to raising standards in the arena of university campus architecture. Julian's dedication goes further than a practical pursuit of functional construction. He is an ardent believer in the lasting qualities and civic purposes of architecture.

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Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation
The name Sackler is synonymous with the thoughtful extension of galleries and museums across the UK using the highest calibre of architects. Dame Theresa invests in architecture because she loves it, just as she loves the art and artefacts that the new buildings in her name house. In this Theresa has continued the philanthropic role she used to share with her late husband Mortimer. Her generosity and insight have greatly added to the architectural landscape and cultural landscapes of this country.

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CEO, Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust
Since 1998 the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust has provided bursaries to 120 aspiring young architects from disadvantaged backgrounds to enable them to pursue their dreams – once shared by Stephen – of becoming architects. Sonia has been CEO of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust since 2013 and has developed its Building Futures Programme to fund not only the bursaries but also to support mentoring, work opportunities and affordable accommodation for students. The programme has opened up avenues for people younger than university age and introduced them to architecture.

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Nathalie Weadick

Director, Irish Architecture Foundation
Director of the IAF, an organisation committed to communicating the culture of architecture and urbanism to the public. Since 2007 she has led the development of Open House Dublin, largest annual festival for architecture in Ireland and part of the Open House Worldwide family, which has seen audiences and the appreciation of architecture grow tenfold. Her programme directorship over recent years has generated new audiences, ideas, partnerships, and debate.

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Royal Gold Medal 2017 Films

royal gold medal lecture: paulo mendes da rocha - english  



royal gold medal lecture: Paulo mendes da rocha - portugese


Royal Gold medal dinner

riba presentation of international and honorary fellows


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