Renovation Before Rebuild: BDA Grand Award for Lacaton Vassal
It is not only the extensive, innovative buildings designed by Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal, but above all their philosophy and design methods, which differ in many fundamental ways from the usual ways of doing things, that have been distinguished by the jury chaired by BDA President Susanne Wartzeck. Journalist Till Briegleb, architect Katja Knaus, architecture historian Philip Ursprung and architect Max Wasserkampf were further jury members.
“Never demolish, never remove or replace, always add, transform and reuse!” Lacaton and Vassal’s credo – renovation before rebuild – has made the architects from the Paris suburb of Montreuil into role models for architecture based on resource preservation and social justice. Their projects, which extend from urban planning to private living spaces, are economical, ecological and socially sustainable. Moreover, they are remarkable in terms of design. Jean-Philippe Vassal has been a professor at the Berlin University of the Arts since 2012. Anne Lacaton has held a professorship at Zurich’s Federal Institute of Technology since 2017. In their work, they are bequeathing their principles to the coming generation of architects.
The BDA Grand Award is conferred every three years and is considered one of the most important and notable distinctions in the field of architecture. It is presented in the form of a gold medal featuring Daedalus and a labyrinth in the style of the Palace of Knossos. Daedalus, an inventor, master builder and engineer from Greek mythology, is a centuries-old symbolic figure for architects.
The prize was first awarded to Hans Scharoun in 1964, followed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Egon Eiermann, Günther Behnish, Oswald Mathias Ungers and others. All the winners characterize a specific period in the history of architecture. In 2014, Axel Schultes won the Grand Award; in 2017 it went to Peter Zumthor.