Lacaton & Vassal are the Soane Medal 2023 winners

The Soane Medal 2023 has been awarded to French architecture practice Lacaton & Vassal

Soane Medal 2023: winners Lacaton & Vassal
Cité du Grand Parc, Bordeaux, France
(Image credit: Philippe Ruault)

The recipients of the Soane Medal 2023 have been announced, crowning French architecture practice Lacaton & Vassal as the winners. The award will be presented to Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal later tonight during a ceremony at Sir John Soane’s Museum, where they will give the sixth annual Soane Medal Lecture.

Lacaton and Vassal’s architectural work has been celebrated for their honest design approach through resourceful repurposing of materials and existing structures.

Soane Medal 2023 winners: Lacaton & Vassal

Soane Medal 2023

Philippe Vassal and Anne Lacaton

(Image credit: Philippe Ruault

)

'What comes after should always be better than what was there before. The buildings that people inhabit – their homes, workplaces and social spaces – should bring pleasure;  architecture should be generous and free. We are overjoyed to be awarded this year’s Soane Medal. As Soane furthered the discipline in his own time, we are pleased to join a group of Medallists who demonstrate architecture’s role in each aspect of society today,' say Lacaton and Vassal.

Soane Medal 2023

Maison Lapatie, Bordeaux, France

(Image credit: Philippe Ruault

)

For over 30 years the architectural practice have found ways to redesign and transform buildings which co-exist with local communities. From social housing to cultural and academic institutions, the process of transformation is evident throughout. In 2017 the duo redesigned three inhabited social housing blocks Bordeaux’s Cité du Grand Parc, which they saved from demolition and instead created winter gardens and balconies for the residents, enhancing the space, and opening views.

Soane Medal 2023

Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France

(Image credit: Philippe Ruault

)

Although redesigns and transformations are a core part of the practice, they also focus on small improvements that make a big impact. In 1996 they were asked to redesign a small triangular town square, but seeing the beauty in the basic elements already provided, they made tweaks to the existing infrastructure to enhance what was already there- affirming their belief to only interfere architecturally when it is necessary. 

The Soane Medal 2023 winners, Lacaton & Vassal , follow in the footsteps of Denise Scott Brown (2018), Kenneth Frampton (2019) Marina Tabassum (2021), and Peter Barber (2022).

Soane Medal 2023

School of Architecture, Nantes, France

(Image credit: Philippe Ruault

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“Lacaton & Vassal’s priority is to avoid unnecessary waste by transforming buildings in ways that will be beneficial for the occupants, the local community and its ecology. By doing so, they have quietly produced some of the most important buildings of our time. All their projects are defined by the needs and wishes of the people who will use them, and their personal responsibilities as architects,' says Alice Rawsthorn, author, design critic and Chair of the 2023 Soane Medal Jury.

Soane Medal 2023

Maison Lapatie, Bordeaux, France

(Image credit: Philippe Ruault

)

lacatonvassal.comsoane.org

Tianna Williams is the Editorial Executive at Wallpaper*. Before joining the team in 2023, she has contributed to BBC Wales, Ford UK, SurfGirl Magazine, and Parisian Vibe, with work spanning from social media content creation to editorial. Now, her role covers writing across varying content pillars for Wallpaper*.