Manuelle Gautrand, the first female and also the first French architect to receive the European Prize for architecture. She believes that ‘Innovation is always based on disobedience’.

Born on July 14, 1961, in Marseille (France). She obtained her graduate diploma in Architecture from the “ENSA” national school of Montpellier in 1985. She founded her office in 1991 I Lyon and then moved to Paris in 1993.  She is the founder principal of Manuelle Gautrand Architecture. Her works are a representation of a soul that claims the ‘luxury of being unaccustomed’ and refuses to follow the style of architecture or type of program.

With a two-level 300 sqm office having a team of over 15 architects, the firm takes up both public and private projects in both France and abroad of various categories such as cultural facilities, offices, housing, hotels, retails and leisure facilities.

“When we go inside a place, it’s very important as users to be impressed and to keep a memory of the site in which we were. It’s very important to have an experience and for that, perhaps, sometimes architecture is close to art.

Myself, I keep trying to find beauty everywhere, in the movies, the landscapes, the city, in a face, I think as artists we are attracted by beauty. And it’s very important for us to search it, not only in the architecture but everywhere.”

Manuelle Gautrand: The First French Architect to Receive the European Prize for Architecture

Apart from professional practice, she has also been involved in workshops and teaching.

Manuelle Gautrand’s most important projects were the transformation of the Gaîté-Lyrique Theatre, the Citroën C42 showroom, Solaris residential complex in Rennes, Solaris residential complex in Rennes, Extension to the Lille Métropole Museum of Modern, Contemporary and Outsider Art at Villeneuve d’Ascq.

It was the Citroën C42 showroom that got the firm international acclaim. Her architecture is characterized by an endless variety of forms and colors, using the most contemporary methods of planning.

“The Prize is awarded to honor the practitioners of the present generation who embrace the true art of architecture together with its humanistic and social pursuits in order to make our European cities and nations true centers of advanced culture and civilization.”

While presenting the award to Manuelle Gautrand, the CEO of the Chicago Athenaeum stated that it is a pleasure to present the award to an office that has developed a thoughtful approach to architecture, just as exteriors and interiors are closely intertwined in their works, so are new and old. He added, “More so, 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.”


Ramneet is an architect by education but a writer at heart. Over the years, she has played many roles; that of a brand strategist, editor, writer, social media content creator and continues to achieve more. And she loves all things related to architectural journalism, marketing and communications.

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