Spanish architect – a follower of form and function, not fashion – is awarded Royal Gold Medal at the age of 67.
The Spanish architect Rafael Moneo was last week awarded the Royal Gold Medal by the RIBA, continuing the wave of design success that the country has enjoyed for 30 years.

The citation by Architectural Association chairman Mohsen Mostafavi, describes Moneo, 67, as "the closest we have to the renaissance architect – practitioner, teacher, theorist, critic … deeply knowledgeable on the arts".

In his address at the presentation of the award Moneo, who lives and works in Madrid and the USA, distanced himself from "the fashion of considering architecture as the inevitable result of a mental process", which he associated with recent gold medal winners Frank Gehry and Archigram.

He instead emphasised the importance of perennial design attributes, recognised since ancient Rome but now in danger of being forgotten.

He said these were the physical presence of buildings, their materials, the spaces inside them and the functions they served.

He is the closest we have to the renaissance architect – practitioner, teacher, critic …

Royal Gold Medal citation

These are all identifiable in Moneo's award-winning buildings. Spaces have been created to evoke a sense of the religious in his Los Angeles cathedral, the largest church in the USA, completed in 2001.

Physical presence and high-quality materials were the key to his Murcia city hall in south-east Spain, completed in 1998. The patterned facade created a dialogue with the cathedral it faced.

At the Merida Museum of Roman Art in western Spain, completed in 1985, brick vaults allowed the building to "merge with, and emerge from, the Roman city".

Moneo, who divides his time between his practice and teaching at the universities of Harvard and Madrid, said that he opposed the vogue of designing buildings as individual statements divorced from their surroundings.