Architecture’s top prize has been awarded to a design duo who could show Britain how to bring its emissions under control
This week the highest honour in the architecture world was awarded to a pair of Parisian designers better known for revitalising existing buildings than creating new ones. The Pritzker prize, which includes a $100,000 jackpot, went to Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal, whose most impressive projects – the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, upgrading three social housing blocks in Bordeaux, and the extension of a Dunkirk warehouse to form an arts complex – are all refurbishments.
It’s the first time in the award’s 46-year history that retrofitting, the practice of upgrading buildings rather than knocking them down to start again, has triumphed. Lacaton & Vassal’s victory has shaken up the architectural profession and signals a remarkable shift in priorities among the world’s best city-makers. If embraced more widely, this could transform how buildings everywhere are regenerated.