Barclay & Crousse's 'Edificio E' education building for the University of Piura in Peru has been crowned as the winner of the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize for 2018. The biennial award, conceived by IIT College of Architecture, recognizes distinguished architectural projects built in North and South America. Previous winners include SANAA's meandering Grace Farms, Álvaro Siza's Iberê Camargo Foundation in Brazil, and Herzog & de Meuron's 1111 Lincoln Road project in Miami.
Selecting from over 175 nominated projects that had been trimmed down to only six finalists, the jury this year were focused on projects that showed potential for lasting influence on both architecture and culture. In other words, projects that, as described by MCHAP Director Dirk Denison, "push forward the development of architecture as a practice, reshaping how we see and organize the built environment around us", and that "participate in the larger cultural exchange that is an essential characteristic of the Americas today."
Set in the dry deserts of northern Peru, the winning project created a compact and complex network of interconnected classrooms, offices, and open spaces specifically designed to accommodate students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The design team hopes the building can stand as a new educational typology.
“The ambiguous, shaded exterior spaces sheltered by the buildings that form the whole were created to provide a place for informal learning and for life in the broadest sense" said Barclay & Crousse. "It has been immensely rewarding to see how students and professors occupy the structure, and to see how it has created a new centrality on campus, where people stay independently of having classes," they continued.
The jurors commended the project's ability to create a social landscape hosting students and faculty from across the University, where the design between classrooms serves as a new kind of public space. “It is not just a project but an exploration of a type, and therefore a set of spatial notions that invites emulation and even replication,” said Rodrigo Pérez de Arce.
Responding to both a demanding climate as well as active seismic activity in the region, Barclay & Crousse's work also displayed a confident approach to the many environmental challenges of today, a feature of the design also celebrated by the jurors. "This is perhaps the first building I have seen where the trees were as important as the classrooms,” commented jury member Claire Weisz. “And it is inspiring to see the idea of designing for earthquakes resulting in a building that is at the same time many buildings."
The Lima-based practice has, since its founding in 1994, become known for their work that emphasizes its relationship to both place and human well-being; care for time, space and light are central to their approach. Sandra Barclay, who leads alongside Jean Pierre Crousse, was recently honored as the 2018 Woman Architect of the Year for the firm's Museo de Sitio de Paracas, a red-pigmented archaeological museum that similarly responded to harsh environmental constraints an seismic concerns.
More images of the winning project can be found in gallery below.
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