The 2017 Royal Gold Medal has been awarded to the Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha in recognition of his notable work of cultural buildings, built in his Brazilian brutalist architectural style. He is also widely credited from the modernization and transformation of the city of Sao Paulo through his projects that demonstrate the use of exposed concrete and rough finishes and surfaces.
Born in Vitória, Brazil in 1928, Paulo Mendes da Rocha has received international acclamation for his significant contribution to architecture. In 1957, he completed his first building, the Athletic Club of São Paulo, followed by a large number of public buildings in the city including Saint Peter Chapel which was completed in 1987, the Brazilian Sculpture Museum Mube, finished in 1988, The Pinacoteca do Estado Gallery completed in 1993, in addition to the Fiesp Cultural Center finished year 1997.
The Brazilian architect has been previously won Mies Van der Rohe prize in 2000, Pritzker prize for year 2006, the Venice Biennale Golden Lion for lifetime achievement in 2016, and the Praemium Imperiale International Arts award in 2016.
RIBA president and chair of the selection committee Jane Duncan commented on the architect’s win saying, ‘Paulo Mendes da Rocha’s work is highly unusual in comparison to the majority of the world’s most celebrated architects. He is an architect with an incredible international reputation, yet almost all his masterpieces are built exclusively in his home country. Revolutionary and transformative, Mendes da Rocha’s work typifies the architecture of 1950’s Brazil – raw, chunky and beautifully ‘brutal’ concrete.’
On the other hand, the architect commented: ‘after so many years of work, it is a great joy to receive this recognition from the royal institute of British architects for the contribution my lifetime of work and experiments has given to the progress of architecture and society. I would like to send my warmest wishes to all those who share my passion, in particular British architects, and share this moment with all the architects and engineers that have collaborated on my projects.’