In 2017, Pritzker prize winners Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramon Vilalta were honoured with the prestigious award, essentially called the Nobel prize of architecture. The surprise is that it is not for a single Architect, but a trio (three architects) from Spain. In response to the Pritzker Prize, Ms Pigem states: “It is a great joy and a great responsibility. We are thrilled that this year three professionals, who work closely together in everything we so do, are recognized. “

Pritzker Architecture Prize winners: Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramon Vilalta - Sheet1
Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramon Vilalta_©

The architects are from Olot (a region of Spain) and became friends while studying at ETSAV, Valles School of Architecture. They started an architectural firm named RCR Arquitectes in 1988, immediately after graduating from school in 1987.

Some of their noteworthy Achievements are –

  1. 1988 – First prize for completion for designing lighthouse
  2. 2005 – National Award for culture in Architecture
  3. 2015 – Gold Medal by French Academy of Architecture
  4. 2017 – Pritzker Architecture Prize 

In 2013, Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramon Vilalta started RCR BUNKA Foundation to support architecture in society. For three decades, they have been working collaboratively. 

Projects | Pritzker Prize winners

Some of the projects for which they gained recognition are –

  1. Bell -Lloc Winery 2007
  2. Tossols – Basil Athletics Track (2000)
  3. La Lira Theater Public Open space
  4. The Sant Antoni – Joan Oliver Library

1. Bell-Lloc Winery:

It is a paved and covered walkway to the underground environment of wine from a road that links forests and buildings. Built-in the excavated environment, it includes a warehouse for the production of wine, a small auditorium, and seating facilities. The projected space offers seating facilities that provide scenic views of the forest and surrounding environment. The undulating route, spatial geometry, the integration of materials-stone and metal -all take you into a distinct atmospheric journey of an underground world that is cool and isolated from the rest of the world.

Pritzker Architecture Prize winners: Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramon Vilalta - Sheet2
Bell-Lloc Winery_©

2. Tossols – Basil Athletics Track: 

The Basil Athletics track is located near the river and a national park in Olot, Girona, Spain. The oval-shaped arena offers the athletes a unique experience for their activities – running amidst and connecting with nature. In this project, the designers preserved the existing space without clearing the trees and existing landscape. They have built the track, spectator seating, and a pavilion without creating disturbance to nature and topography. Later, other facilities such as a soccer field, entrance pavilion, and changing facilities were added. 

Pritzker Architecture Prize winners: Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramon Vilalta - Sheet3
Basil Athletics Track_©

3. La Lira Theatre Public Open Space:

The Lira theatre stands as a unique and distinct structure between the residential buildings, where previously an old theatre stood. It has access to a river by a pedestrian steel crossway. Weathered steel and a covered square shape represent an urban and contemporary façade. The square opening provides views of the river beyond and parts of town. And the enclosure space can be utilized for outdoor space activities that can be enjoyed by the residents of the area. The latticework on the sidewalls, the metal roof, and the pathway exhibit an eccentric urban fabric.

Pritzker Architecture Prize winners: Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramon Vilalta - Sheet4
La Lira Theater Public open space_©

4. The Sant Antoni – Joan Oliver Library:

The library stands between dense buildings on a busy street in Barcelona. The library, as a door and chill-out space for reading, retirement home, as a façade of public space, and the interior of the block as a playground for children with spatial and relationship richness for an urban project. The reading rooms are set in cube-like boxes set in between each other. It forms as a gateway to the senior citizens center at the rear end of the block.

The Sant Antoni – Joan Oliver Library_©

Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramon Vilalta’s works have been published in several books’ magazines, journals, and newsletters, expanding their fame all over the globe. Their work expresses commitment to its place, creating spaces by complementing respective contexts and an experiential architecture as the final creation.

Concept / Ideology | Pritzker Prize winners

Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramon Vilalta worked in conjunction on distinct projects – public and private buildings collaborating with themselves. Majority of the built projects, Spain in particular. However, in recent years they have ventured beyond into other European countries. While developing sensitivity towards the landscape, they skilfully play with materials to integrate with light, shade, and mass. Their projects emphasize colour, transparency, cost and materials – stone, metal, recycled steel and plastic. Mainly the focus is on local projects, and their designs represent a regional identity for their built projects.

By combining two different materials, such as recycled metal and stone, the designers have shown that unifying the materials of distinct properties can bring strength, simplicity and uniqueness to any building.

They have taught various lectures and courses in landscape design, urban design, and architectural design at ETSAV and also served as individual jury members. They even conducted several workshops in their design studio. They have also been invited to give lectures in different cities of Europe.


Sahithi is an Indian-based Architect and Interior designer. While Architecture is her profession, writing is her passion and makes her feel compelling. She believes writing about Architecture can bring a positive change and develop a sensitivity towards culture and Heritage.Despite these,she loves traveling.