by Dilpreet BhullarSep 25, 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.
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).
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.
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.
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''.
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.
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.
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.
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).