To encourage merit, recognise talent and reward achievement, the International Union of Architects (UIA) awards a Gold Medal and five prizes during the triennial UIA World Congress. The 2021 UIA World Congress in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is the first to be held virtually.
THE UIA GOLD MEDAL: PAULO MENDES DA ROCHA
The UIA Gold Medal is awarded to Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha, whose timeless work has marked the field of architecture. The Jury appreciated Mendes da Rocha’s unique status as a daring iconoclast whose work has taken architecture to new heights of technical virtuosity. His work also embodies strong elements of personal and social integrity, reflected in his ability to transcend limits while retaining a fundamental sense of place that is grounded organically in his native land and culture.
Paulo Mendes da Rocha's UIA Gold Medal exemplifies a lifetime of achievement spanning seven decades that emphasized architecture as a public act.
THE ROBERT MATTHEW PRIZE FOR SUSTAINABLE & HUMANE ENVIRONMENTS: FRANCIS KÉRÉ
The Jury unanimously attributed the Prize to Burkinabé architect Francis Kéré for his implementation of visions that are at once utopian and pragmatic. His innovative use of local building techniques and sensitivity to culture and community are emblematic of a commitment to fundamental values and sustainable architecture on a human scale.
THE JEAN TSCHUMI AWARD FOR ARCHITECTURAL WRITING: DOĞAN KUBAN
The Prize was attributed to Turkish architectural historian and conservation expert Doğan Kuban, a “quiet giant” in the field of architectural scholarship, preservation and restoration. His work has concentrated on the rich architectural heritage of Istanbul, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. Over the course of a lifetime, Kuban has produced more than 70 works bringing the grandeur and complexity of Turkish, Islamic, and Anatolian architecture to the world, creating an invaluable resource and inspiration to future scholars and architects.
THE AUGUSTE PERRET PRIZE FOR TECHNOLOGY: ANUPAMA KUNDOO & RUDY RICCIOTTI
For the first time, the Jury attributed the Prize to two architects: Indian architect Anupama Kundoo, for her innovation use of local building techniques, material sourcing and construction principles, all the while being acutely responsive to the environment, climate and culture, and French architect Rudy Ricciotti for his extraordinary mastery of concrete and awe-inspiring flexibility of form, echoing Auguste Perret himself.
THE PATRICK ABERCROMBIE PRIZE FOR URBAN PLANNING & DESIGN: JOAN BUSQUETS I GRAU
The Jury chose to attribute the Prize to Spanish urban planner, architect and professor Joan Busquets i Grau in recognition of the significant social impact of his work on a global scale, citing especially his visionary urban regeneration project in the Old Center of his native Barcelona in the late 1980s, which continues to exercise an exceptional and enduring influence on urban planning, inspiring future generations of urban planners and designers.
THE VASSILIS SGOUTAS PRIZE FOR IMPLEMENTED ARCHITECTURE SERVING THE IMPOVERISHED
David Kaunitz and Ka Wai Yeung, an Australian married couple, for their profound commitment to innovative design and sustainable construction, implemented with local participation;
South African architect, Nadia Tromp, for her deep sense of social commitment grounded in pragmatic and simple design solutions, which foster human dignity and community engagement;
Chinese architect Jiansong Lu whose pragmatic and elegant approach to modern architectural technology has improved the quality of life for members of China’s Huayao tribe, an ethnic minority living in the Xuefeng Mountains in Hunan Province, China.
The jury further attributed two mentions:
Indian architect Brinda Somaya’s architecture, conservation and restoration centred on her philosophy that “the Architect’s role is that of guardian;” and
The Polish team, Biuro Projektów Lewicki Łatak, which creates spaces that include people with physical handicaps and facilitate life for them in a way which is both thoughtful and practical.
The jury for the 2021 UIA Triennial Gold Medal and Prizes met virtually on 21 April 2021. The jury included UIA President Thomas Vonier, Africa Union of Architects (AUA) President Victor Leonel, Eva Jiricna of AI Design, Kai-Uwe Bergmann of BIG & Nadia Somekh, President of Conselho de Arquitectura e Urbanismo do Bresil (CAU/BR).
To see all the UIA Triennial Prize Winners, visit the Winners' Gallery. The images have been submitted by the UIA Member Sections that nominated the laureates. Photo credits should be attributed to each laureate's architectural firm. The images should only be used in reference to the announcement of the laureates' respective prizes.