IIDEXCanada Blog

Celebrating Craft

Celebrating Craft

In February, The Architectural Review came out with an issue on craft. Projects featured in the issue contained works by Peter Zumthor, David Adjaye, Peter Salter and Fernando Menis. All of these architects demonstrate a concern for materiality and how light affects our world. It was a reminder of how the assemblage of materials in a thoughtful, conscious and meaningful way creates rich architectural experiences.

In late February, the Hyatt Foundation announced that Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta, who lead the Catalan firm RCR Arquitectes, had won the $100,000 (U.S.) Pritzker Architecture Prize. This prize has previously been awarded to the likes of Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid and Rem Koolhaas. Considered the architecture world’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize, this year’s winners are a group of three Spanish designers committed to the idea of craft in their buildings. Until recently, their body of work has remained relatively unknown outside of Spain.

But the concept of craft is certainly well-known to many Canadian architects and designers, and is something that IIDEXCanada is especially proud to showcase through our display of new materials or creations built by emerging designers. Craft also has a lot to do with site, culture, and the ability to slow down and design spaces that are powerfully connected to our surrounding landscape. RCR Arquitectes typify this connection, which the jury duly noted as being part of “history, the natural topography, customs and cultures, among other things – and observing and experiencing light, shade, colours and the seasons.”

Click here to learn more: The Pritzker Architecture Prize, 2017 Laureates 

Their most recognized work, the Soulages Museum in the southern French town of Rodez and dedicated to the work of the painter Pierre Soulages, is comprised of a line of blocks clad in weathering steel. Other projects, like their Barberi Laboratory in Girona uses steel in contrast to light, nature and stone. Their library for a seniors centre in Barcelona uses steel to generate a glass box that feels light and ethereal.

Soulages Museum, 2014. Photo credit: Hisao Suzuki

“We are used to reading the site as of it had its own alphabet,” Pigem says in documentary video produced by the Pritzker. And she says elsewhere, “A great motivating force is to be able to discover the treasure of each place, or where the magic resides.”


Indeed, many of Canada’s own architects share in the design philosophy and approach to RCR's architecture. And the approach to craft is something that IIDEXCanada will explore in more depth this fall at one of its highly anticipated National Summits where we will investigate what makes craft such an important part of our everyday lives.