Swiss Architectural Award 2020: Exploring the works of Parisian practice Bruther

Promoted by Teatro dell’architettura Foundation, the award is presented every two years to practices that have made a significant contribution to contemporary architecture.

by Devanshi ShahPublished on : Apr 05, 2021

Architects Stéphanie Bru and Alexandre Theriot, the co-founders of Parisian architectural practice Bruther, have been awarded the Swiss Architectural Award 2020. Now in its seventh edition, the award is presented every two years to practices that have made a significant contribution to contemporary architecture. The award is intended to increase the visibility of contemporary trans-disciplinary methodologies of global architectural practices. Design and the act of designing are becoming multifaceted as they are linked to issues such as availability of energy resources, climate change, and complex social realities. The award hopes to spotlight practices that address these questions with new approaches in the field of architecture, urban studies and landscape design.

An exhibition felicitating them is on display at the Auditorium Teatro dell’architettura in Switzerland.

Swiss Architectural Award 2020 exhibition at Teatro dell’architettura in Mendrisio, Switzerland | Swiss Architectural Award 2020 winner Bruther | STIRworld
Swiss Architectural Award 2020 exhibition at Teatro dell’architettura in Mendrisio, SwitzerlandImage: Enrico Cano

The Award

Founded in 2007, the Swiss Architectural Award (SAA) is awarded every two years to architects aged less than 50, who have realised at least three relevant works. This particular condition of the award allows younger and more nascent practices to be continually inducted into consideration. With the largest pool of shortlisted candidates to date, Paris-based Bruther was among the 33 candidates from 19 countries that were selected by this year's jury. The panel was chaired by Mario Botta and an international committee of advisors consisting of Sean Godsell, Steven Holl, Junya Ishigami, and Bijoy Jain, to name a few. The Swiss Architectural Award is a significant recognition bestowed on budding practices with previous awardees including Francis Kéré (2009) and José María Sánchez García (2013).

  • The other candidates for the award included Angela Deuber: Primary school, Thal (Switzerland), 2013 | Swiss Architectural Award 2020 | Angela Deuber | STIRworld
    The other candidates for the award included Angela Deuber: Primary school, Thal (Switzerland), 2013 Image: Courtesy of Schaub Stierli Fotografie
  • The other candidates for the award included Bernardo Bader: Islamic Cemetery, Altnach (Austria), 2009-2012 | Swiss Architectural Award 2020 | Bernardo Bader | STIRworld
    The other candidates for the award included Bernardo Bader: Islamic Cemetery, Altnach (Austria), 2009-2012 Image: Adolf Bereuter
  • The other candidates for the award included Carla Juaçaba: Posse House, Petropolis (Brazil), 2019 | Swiss Architectural Award 2020 | Carla Juaçaba | STIRworld
    The other candidates for the award included Carla Juaçaba: Posse House, Petropolis (Brazil), 2019 Image: Courtesy of Carla Juaçaba Studio
  • Kashef Mahboob Chowdhury/URBANA - Friendship Centre, Gaibandha (Bangladesh), 2008-2012 | Swiss Architectural Award 2020 | URBANA | STIRworld
    The other candidates for the award included Kashef Mahboob Chowdhury/URBANA - Friendship Centre, Gaibandha (Bangladesh), 2008-2012 Image: Hélène Binet

The Exhibition

An exhibition celebrating the winners and candidates of the Swiss Architectural Award 2020 will be on display at the Auditorium Teatro dell’architettura until December 24, 2021. The exhibition focuses on the works of all the 33 candidates, presented through images. The winner's works are being showcased through the photographs of Enrico Cano, and videos shot by Daniele Marucci.

 Bruther's Residence for researchers “Maison Julie-Victoire Daubié”, Paris, 2014-2018; image and plan | Swiss Architectural Award 2020 | Bruther | STIRworld
Bruther's Residence for researchers “Maison Julie-Victoire Daubié”, Paris, 2014-2018; image and plan Image: Salem Moustefaoui, Courtesy of Bruther

The Winner

Bru and Theriot set up Bruther in Paris in 2007. Working across various fields in addition to architecture, such as research, education, urbanism and landscape, Bruther looks at the delicate balance between dualities that define architecture. The studio's work experiments with the equilibrium between strategy and form, rigour and freedom, specific and generic, immediacy and evolutionary. Bruther also mentions that, “considering the program in its future, our projects stand for open infrastructures that fit an abundance of context possibilities and a wide malleability of uses," in reference to the modus operandi of their practice.

New Generation Research Centre, Caen (France), 2013-2015; image and section, by Bruther| Swiss Architectural Award 2020 | Bruther | STIRworld
New Generation Research Centre, Caen (France), 2013-2015; image and section, by Bruther Image: Julien Hourcade, Bruther

The jury commendation recognised Bruther’s work saying, "The three works presented by Bruther (Stéphanie Bru and Alexandre Theriot) deal, with great coherence and quality, with the theme of the periphery (and specifically, the periphery of French cities), recognised as the nerve centre where the contradictions of our society manifest themselves with disruptive force. In difficult contexts, marked by social tensions and characterised by anonymous if not degraded spaces, Bruther intervenes with an architecture characterised by a profound civic demand, which aims to restore dignity to these places and their inhabitants''.

 Designed by Bruther, the Cultural and Sports Centre Saint-Blaise, Paris, 2010-2014; image and section | Swiss Architectural Award 2020 | Bruther | STIRworld
Designed by Bruther, the Cultural and Sports Centre Saint-Blaise, Paris, 2010-2014; image and section Image: Filip Dujardin, Bruther

The Work

The Cultural and Sports Centre in Saint-Blaise, Paris, France (2010-2014): Designed keeping in mind and anticipating the evolution of needs and uses of the centre as the building is built around a concrete core. This core anchors the services of the structure while the rest of the functions are designated to the periphery. The transparency of the Cultural and Sports Centre allows it to establish itself as an architecture link across the public space surrounding it. Bruther was nominated for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award in 2015 for this particular project.

07 mins watch Winner of Swiss Architectural Award 2020, Bruther’s project Cultural and Sports Center Saint-Blaise, Paris | Swiss Architectural Award 2020 | Bruther | STIRworld
Winner of Swiss Architectural Award 2020, Bruther’s project Cultural and Sports Center Saint-Blaise, Paris Video: Daniele Marucci

New Generation Research Centre, Caen, France (2013-2015): Visually connected to its immediate surrounding with an exceptional 360-degree view, the building establishes a dialogue with the city. A constant play on volumes allows for flexible use and programming, in an infinite combination of spaces. The main mass of the structure is detached from the ground floor to form a large sheltered plaza. Bruther was awarded the Prix de l’Équerre d’argent in 2016 for this project.

06 mins watch Winner of Swiss Architectural Award 2020, Bruther’s project New Generation Research Centre, Caen | Swiss Architectural Award 2020 | Bruther | STIRworld
Winner of Swiss Architectural Award 2020, Bruther’s project New Generation Research Centre, Caen Video: Daniele Marucci

Residence for researchers/ Maison Julie-Victoire Daubié, Paris, France (2014-2018): Located on the southern edge of the park connected to Cite Universitaire, the structure seems to have no apparent boundaries. Yet it must address the constraints of being located in an active urban environment. The residence is immediately identifiable as a “split and raised” cube, the organisation of which is easily readable through its section rather than its elevation.

07 mins watch Winner of Swiss Architectural Award 2020, Bruther’s project Residence for researchers, Paris | Swiss Architectural Award 2020 | Bruther | STIRworld
Winner of Swiss Architectural Award 2020, Bruther’s project Residence for researchers, Paris Video: Daniele Marucci

The Swiss Architectural Award is promoted since the 2019-2020 edition by the Teatro dell’architettura Foundation and organised by the USI-Accademia di architettura in Mendrisio. In the jury, chaired by Mario Botta, are represented the three Swiss schools of architecture (Università della Svizzera italiana – Accademia di architettura; Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne – ENAC, Section d’Architecture; Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich – Departement Architektur).

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