The Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza received one of architecture’s most prestigious prizes, the Royal Gold Medal. As part of the Royal Institute of British Architect’s (RIBA) celebrations for its 175th anniversary, Siza was presented with the award by Her Majesty The Queen at a private audience at Buckingham Palace, followed by a celebratory dinner held in his honour at the RIBA.
Awarded in recognition of a lifetime’s work, the Royal Gold Medal is approved personally by Her Majesty The Queen and is given annually to a person or group of people whose lifetime’s work has had a significant influence on international architecture.
The honour recognises the impact Siza has made on architecture; he is a major figure in European architecture who has remained true to his artistic and ethical principles and achieved a prolific portfolio of work worldwide, which remains rooted in his native city of Porto.
Sunand Prasad, President of the RIBA said:
“Álvaro Siza is 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. He manipulates his readings of place into sculptural forms that are never predictable or ordinary, yet are never allowed to dominate over use or typological intelligibility.
In Siza’s buildings, perhaps like no others, it is the relationships between the elements of the architecture that is given primacy rather than the shape or texture of the elements themselves. This is an architecture in which an economy of expressive means is combined with an abundance of spatial revelation.
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. Unusually for an architect of such international standing, Siza has deliberately kept his studio small to ensure his attention to every project. He is generous with his appreciation of other architects.
For the inspiring and instructive body of work he has produced over 40 years, and for his immense contribution to architecture through dialogue and teaching, the RIBA, on behalf of H. M. the Queen, is honoured to present the 2009 Royal Gold Medal for Architecture to Álvaro Joaquim Melo Siza Vieira. We wish him many more years of fulfilment of his unique vision of the possibilities of building.”