The prizes, awarded on Friday, March 3rd in London’s Mayfair, are a result of a campaign for gender equality, founded in partnership with The Architectural Review and The Architects’ Journal. The winners of the internationally recognised awards were announced during a ceremony within the luxurious spaces of the hotel Claridge’s. The welcoming speech by Christine Murray, the Editor in Chief of The Architectural Review and the Architects’ Journal, was followed by the announcements of the awarded architects, divided into four categories.
Part of the Women in Architecture programme is awarding prizes with global importance to architects, who create outstanding designs and have the potential to become role models for young women in practice. The awards are presented in four categories: the Jane Drew Prize, honouring achievements that raise the profile of women in the profession, has been awarded to Denise Scott Brown; the Ada Louise Huxtable Prize, for the contributions of individuals in the wider fields of architecture, won by Rachel Whiteread; the Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture and the Architect of the Year. While the first and second mentioned were chosen by vote of the architectural community, the third and fourth were decided by a panel of respectable judges.
The Emerging Architecture Awards were founded in 1999 by The Architectural Review, to acknowledge talented young architects aiming for international recognition. The award bears the name of the late art and design museum director Moira Gemmill, a long-time supporter of the Women in Architecture Awards.
The winner of the prize, Rozana Montiel (Rozana Montiel Estudio de Arquitectura), has particularly delighted the judging committee by her ‘sensitive engagements with communities that activate simple architectural forms’. Those are visible in her projects such as the Veracruz Cancha, a community sports centre, a structure with the communal spaces implemented in the shading construction, protecting the basketball courtyard from the heat. Drawing inspiration from the Greek agora structures, the architect created a habitable outdoor space, which offers multiple uses of the space and acts with a positive impact on its users; apart from the sports-oriented areas, the building apart from other spaces contains a library and even a herbal clinic with a botanical garden. As Montiel says: ‘Architecture has the power to shape civic behaviour because, more than laying bricks, it lays the founding principles of public and social standing.’
The Architect of the Year Award selects a qualified architect based on their projects’ excellence in design. The nominees in the shortlist represent true architecture professionals with a respect of geographical and political contexts, but also ambitions to innovate.
The 2017’s winner of the Architect of the Year, Gabriela Carillo (Taller Mauricio Rocha + Gabriela Carrillo), has made a powerful impression on the judging committee especially with her project of the Criminal Courts for Oral trials in Pátzcuaro, Mexico, which, according to the jury, ’skilfully answered a brief to design flexible spaces, complied with strict security rules and improved transparency in the judicial process’. The building provides the three main groups of users with separate routes and spaces, meeting in the trial courts, which are set in a clear geometric order. The skillful use of natural light to create subtly changing ambience, a constant visual transparency and a strong presence of the outer stone wall in the surrounding landscape are only a few of the project’s characteristics.
Shortlist: Julia Barfield (Marks Barfield Architects), Gabriela Carillo (Taller Mauricio Rocha + Gabriela Carrillo), Anouk Legendre (XTU Architects) and Andrea Leers and Jane Weinzapfel (Leers Weinzapfel Associates)
While the audience got the chance to witness Gabriela Carillo’s reaction of genuine surprise during the winners announcement, the 85-year-old Denise Scott Brown was not able to take part in the ceremony. To make it up to her, the speaker Christine Murray encouraged the spectators to express their feelings of admiration, respect and appreciation in their applause, to be conveyed to the architect later in a form of a recording.