RCR Arquitectes are an architectural studio based and founded in Olot (a small city in the province of Girona) in 1988 by Rafael Aranda (Olot, 12th May 1961), Carme Pigem (Olot, 18th April 1962) and Ramon Vilalta (Vic, 25th April 1960) . The trio started working locally , designing from an athletics track in Olot (their hometown) to restaurants and houses. However, they soon started working on projects located abroad, such as the Soulage Museum in collaboration with G. Trégouët in Rodez (France) or the Art Centre “La cuisine” also located in France, in the Nègrepelisse castle. As a matter of fact, in their projects we can find both private spaces and public spaces like educational or cultural institutions. Nevertheless, in all of them we can perceive the intention to unite the spaces to their environment . As a consequence, their choice in materials is definitely influenced by this eagerness to respect the surroundings. Because of this, RCR’s architecture results in camouflaged spaces in perfect harmony with nature. Also, they often use recycled plastics and steel. After nearly 30 years of work and several merits and awards, the trio received the well-deserved Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2017, which would be the equivalent of a Nobel prize in architecture.
On top of that, they have participated in numerous and extremely important exhibitions like the III Salon International de l’Architecture
in Paris in 1990 or the MoMA’s On-Site: New Architecture in Spain (New York, 2006). Moreover, since 1989 all three have been consultant architects to the Natural Park in the volcanic area of la Garrotxa. Also, as a sign of their impact and importance, they are currently professors of architecture in the ETSAV and have given over 200 lectures in Spain and all over the world. Finally, they have also created the RCR Lab A, defined in their web as “Laboratory space of architecture open to develop research and creative transversality”, and the RCR Bunka Foundation. The latter was originated to stimulate socially the assessment of architecture and landscape, and, implicitly, arts and culture in general.
“RCR Arquitectes is not a study to the use. Removed from the traditional centers of influence of the Spanish architecture, they have decided to take this discipline a step beyond throwing his look behind, to the time in which the architecture was protecting the man of the inclemencies of nature without breaking the link that it was joining her. RCR’s telluric architecture seems to be, in fact, molded by the forces of nature, thrown to the surface from the interior of the land for the volcanoes that Olot surrounds.”
Mónica de Linos about RCR Arquitectes, director of the ICO Foundation. Translated from an interview for Veredes
“We Try to Slow Things Down”, Carme Pigell. Source: interview for Archdaily
“Architecture should evolve towards beauty. Functionality is ephemere”, RCR Arquitectes. Translated from an interview for Nyn.
Overall, their architecture is about minimalism and clean forms mixed with their love of nature. It is about integrating the space in its environment. For this trio, nature is the main inspiration when building up these complex but beautiful spaces. In the end, nature is their model. Also, all three understand architecture as a living being as alive as nature. This is the reason why they are so keen on nature. As a consequence, all their works seem in perfect order with it, they don’t seem out of place at all. It is as if they wer naturally
placed there. Also, contemplating their mesmerising buildings helps create a sensation of serenity in me. In fact, I’d even say that their spaces have a spiritual aspect in them. As advocates of the importance of the form and the sensations materials create, their work is a reflection of their concept of beauty as a form of art. Besides, I believe that the beauty of their spaces resides in their harmony. For me, beauty, just like the greeks understood, is a matter of order. On the other hand, pomposity, excesses, flamboyance… create the opposite effect: disorder, disruption… In fact, from my perspective, I believe we can affirm that beauty is not perfection, it is indeed harmony. This way, we can perfectly understand their obsession with the relation between the interior and exterior of their spaces. As quoted, beauty is key while functionality is just ephemere. In the end, they think that all solutions must be beautiful.
Besides, they comprehend that each work is a new challenge, a new opportunity. On the one hand, they understand architecture as experimentation, as
something constantly evolving and changing. On the other hand, their approach to it is completely emotional, they understand it as a matter of feelings and sensations. It is about concepts too. Due to this, to obtain the beauty and poeticity they pursue, they prefer to focus on ideas rather than in forms. Actually, they aren’t interested in the object itself, but in creating a “new reality” or atmosphere.
With their architecture, they achieve complex space that can absorb you. These spaces make time slow down, which is essential in this accelerated world. Basically, they just want to achieve places capable of this phenomenon. In fact, as they declared in an interview, their goal is to keep designing spaces which will generate that sense of belonging in a global world. In conclusion, we can state that a good building is one which moves us.
“Quiero ser arquitecto”, Alberto Campo Baeza
In this text “Quiero ser arquitecto”, Alberto Campo Baeza, a well-known Spanish architect, reflects on everything that implies being an architect and studying Architecture. First of all, he talks about what being an architect really means. People usually have different opinions: an architect is an artist, a technician… however, according to him, an architect is all of them in one. In fact, he believes an architect is a constructor of dreams. Personally, I believe being an architect is about making things come true. It is about materialising these complex ideas. For me, this is one of the main reasons why I’ve always enjoyed Art and Architecture. In fact, I’ve always enjoyed and admire how these great artists are capable of reflecting their raw feelings on a paper. Besides, in the text, he also mentions the best schools to study the degree. Moreover, he focuses on the essentiality of effort in Architecture. For him, even though it is tough, it is absolutely necessary. On top of that, he insists on the relevance of some subjects, especially of Proyectos, which according to him is the heart of the degree. He gives some tips which will come in handy once you start your degree. For instance, he mentions drawing and photography but also reading and writing. After that, he gives a list of skills an architect must possess. Basically, for him it all comes down to practice. Apart from this, he recommends some books (of very different genres) and talks about the future careers you can follow after finishing your degree. From his point of view, Architecture provides numerous skills which will allow us to work in any area. Finally, he mentions the six most revolutionary Spanish architects and concludes. He ends stating how worth it it is to be an architect and how it is the most beautiful career path in his opinion. This text is a wonderfully written guide for future architects (like me I hope) and the result of years of experience. As he mentions, Architecture is an extremely vocational career. In my case, I was rather doubtful about choosing it. In fact, it was an instant and kind of spontaneous. Nevertheless, every day as I learn something new, I become much more sure about my decision.
Bibliography and image sources