Manuelle Gautrand has been presented with Europe’s Highest Award for Architecture by The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design
One of Europe’s leading women architects, Manuelle Gautrand, is named as this year’s Laureate of The European Prize for Architecture for her body of works that celebrate boldness and non-conformity in a world torn by extreme modernity and a reactionary return to the past.
Her firm’s poetic architecture embraces the endless variety of forms and colours, using the most contemporary methods of planning in a variety of areas, ranging from cultural facilities to residential, commercial, and office buildings—all with the sentiment of making special places and distinct spaces that celebrate ordinary life in our complex urban cities and our diverse cultural situations.
Throughout her career, Manuelle Gautrand has developed a public and civic architecture that opens up the realm of possibilities for unique space making by employing a multitude of design strategies that are divergent, instinctive, and innovative.
Her work demonstrates an unyielding commitment to place and its narrative, to create an architecture that is in discourse with their respective contexts.
Each year, The European Prize for Architecture is awarded jointly by The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design to architects who have made a commitment to forward the principles of European humanism and the art of architecture.
“We are delighted to present The European Prize for Architecture to this innovative and creative French 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,” states Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, President/CEO of The Chicago Athenaeum.
“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.”
“Ms. Gautrand rightly compares her work to the poetry of the French Nobel Prize for Literature Laureate, Saint John Perse: ‘the luxury of being unaccustomed’.”
The European Prize for Architecture is not a “lifetime of achievement award,” but rather serves as an impetus to support new ideas, to encourage and foster more challenge-making and forward-thinking about buildings and the environment, and to prompt the pushing of the envelope to obtain an even greater, more profound result.
The Prize also honors the commitment and achievements of the best European architects who have determined a more critical, intellectual, and artistic approach to the design of buildings and cities.
Previous Laureates include: Bjarke Ingels (Denmark), Graft Architects (Germany), TYIN Architects (Norway), Marco Casagrande (Finland), Alessandro Mendini (Italy), and Santiago Calatrava (Spain/Switzerland), LAVA Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (Germany).
Manuelle Gautrand was born in 1961 in Marseille, France and obtained her graduate diploma in Architecture from The École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Montpellier in 1985.
She worked for six year in different architecture studios in Paris and founded her office in 1991—first in Lyons and then in Paris. Since 1994, she lives and works in Paris.
She is the principal architect and director of the agency Manuelle Gautrand Architecture, which she opened in 1991 with her partner, Marc Blaising, who is in charge of financial, contractual and management matters. Since 1991, more than 300 architects have worked at their practice in Paris.
Her firm mainly designs buildings in areas as diverse as cultural facilities (theaters, museums, and cultural centers), office buildings, housing, commercial and leisure facilities. Her clients are public contracting authorities as well as private firms, in France and abroad.
In 2007, Manuelle Gautrand’s “C42” Citroen Flagship Showroom on the Champs-Elysées Avenue in Paris gained immediate public attention and widespread acclaim in the international arena. In 2011, she converted the Gaîté-Lyrique Theatre into a centre for modern music and digital arts. Internationally, she has taken part in the competition for the new Munch Museum in Oslo, and the office is currently working on the extension of the Brädstapeln office building in central Stockholm, Sweden, as well as on a civic and cultural center in Parramatta, Australia.
Her practice has worked for prestigious clients such as Adim, Air France, Altarea Cogedim, Areim Real Estate & Seb, BNP Paribas Immobilier, Carrefour Property, Central Pattana Public Company, Citroën, Communauté Urbaine de Lille, Crédit Agricole Immobilier, Espacil, Groupe Galeries Lafayette, Gaumont-Pathé, Gecina, ING Real Estate, Linkcity, Parramatta City Council, Port Autonome de Paris, Sanef, Ville de Lyon, Ville de Paris, and Ville de Saint-Louis.
Manuelle Gautrand has won three International Architecture Awards from The Chicago Athenaeum and The European Centre, as well as the German Design Award in 2017. She has been awarded by the French Government Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 2010, and Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2007. In 2016, she has been elected President of the French Academy of Architecture.
“At the core of the process of creativity lies the approach to each new project through the spirit of 'blank page,' with no à priori,' continues Narkiewicz-Laine. “Yet all her projects express a specific relationship to the site: a desire to revive it and enchant; a deep commitment to working on the programs entrusted to the firm, make them even more efficient, more malleable and more unexpected. The project must each time become a unique and symbolic encounter between the site and the program.”
“Her works admirably and poetically fulfill the traditional requirements of architecture for physical and spatial beauty along with function and craftsmanship, but what sets them apart is their approach that creates buildings and places that are both local and universal at the same time.”
The Lille Museum of Modern Art, completed in 2010, is a refurbishment and an extension of the museum in a magnificent park at Villeneuve d’Ascq. The original building, designed by Roland Simounet in 1983, is on France’s Historic Monuments List.
The architecture of the extension wraps around the north and east sides of the existing arrangement in a fan-splay of long, fluid and organic volumes. On one side, the fan ribs stretch in close folds to shelter a café-restaurant that opens to the central patio; on the other, the ribs are more widely spaced to form the five galleries for the Art brut collection.
At the extremity of the folds – meaning the galleries – a large bay opens magnificent views onto the surrounding parkland, adding breathing space to the visit itinerary. These views make up for the half-light in the galleries:
the openwork screens in front of the bays mediate with strong light and parkland scenery, a feature that recalls the original architect’s generous arrangements in the galleries that he designed. Envelopes are sober: smooth untreated concrete, with mouldings and openwork screens to protect the bays from too much daylight. The surface concrete has a slight colour tint that varies according to intensity of light
One of the firm’s most recent achievements is the stunning Hipark Hotel of 2016 on Boulevard d'Indochine in Paris’ 19th arrondissement.
The mixed-use building, which fills every inch of the site right up to its edges, molds itself around urban constraints, requirements in the program, and land restrictions, notably the buttresses of the acoustic barrier on the périphérique side and the related access routes.
These different angled faces, of a volume that was virtually rectangular to begin with, provide very different perceptions of the building: according to the viewpoint, surfaces appear brighter or darker, more or less cambered, conferring a powerful dynamism to the entire building. The tapering green layers add a dramatic palette to the urbanscape.
In 2016, the firm won a competition for 5 Parramatta Square’s landmark civic and community building in Parramatta, Australia together with DesignInc and Lacoste + Stevenson.
The cutting-edge glass construction features a wave-shaped façade of crystalline blocks that makes the building inviting and open for the community to explore the library of the future, public roof garden, customer contact center, visitor experience center, community meeting rooms and a technology hub. The project is slated for completion in 2019.
“Each building designed by the French firm,” adds Narkiewicz-Laine, "is special and is uncompromisingly of its time and place.”
“This firm understands that architecture and its surroundings are intimately intertwined and know that the choice of materials and the craft of building are powerful tools for creating lasting and meaningful spaces in the city and in the city’s diverse environments.”
“For these reasons, exemplified in all the firm’s built work, and for the firm’s ability to express the local, but also the universal, uniting us with one another through the art of architecture, Manuel Gautrand Architecture is awarded the 2017 European Prize for Architecture.”