Portuguese architect wins RIBA's prestigous prize for influence on international architecture

Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza, has been named as the winner of the Royal Gold Medal, one of architecture’s most prestigious prizes.

The prize is awarded in recognition of a lifetime’s work, and is approved personally by Her Majesty the Queen. It is given annually to a person or group of people whose influence on architecture has had an international effect.

The winner was announced by Sunand Prasas, RIBA president, at today’s meeting of the council.

Siza is a pivotal figure in European architecture, achieving a large portfolio of international work.

Prasad described the RIBA’s new medallist as “simply a profoundly complete architect who defies categorisation. The forging of a masterful and seemingly inevitable architecture out of the possibilities of a site is one of the supreme characteristics of Álvaro Siza’s architecture.”

Simply a profoundly complete architect who defies categorisation

Sunand Prasad

Prasad said the architecture of Álvaro Siza’s matured in Portugal under a dictatorship that allowed little interchange with international architecture culture.

After qualifying in 1955, he worked for three years with Fernando Tavora, with whom he is seen as the leading light of the “Porto school.”

Prasad added: “Álvaro Siza is, and always has been, a committed teacher and educator. He has enabled many younger architects to gain commissions through the work he was initially offered and this selflessness is one of many examples of his commitment to the greater architectural project, rather than to personal success.”

This year’s Honours Committee jury was chaired by RIBA President Sunand Prasad and consisted of architects Sir Jeremy Dixon of Dixon Jones, Prof. Kenneth Frampton of Columbia University, Despina Katsikakis of design consultancy DEGW, Pankaj Patel of Patel Taylor, writer Peter Davey OBE and engineer Jane Wernick Hon FRIBA.

Siza will be presented with the Royal Gold Medal at the RIBA in February 2009.