The IAA professor Renée Gailhoustet has received this year’s Royal Academy Architecture Prize.
Since 2018, the Royal Academy Architecture Prize has been awarded to an individual whose work inspires and instructs the discussion, collection or production of architecture.
This year’s Prize highlights housing as one of the most pressing and complex issues of our time. The jury highlighted Gailhoustet’s extraordinary contribution to social housing in France and her inspirational approach to building communities and urban planning.
“Renée Gailhoustet’s impressive body of work consistently reflects her interest in realising architecture as a social and cultural practice,” the jury said.
“Her buildings demonstrate a belief in social connections and an aspiration for structures and urban environments that are cohesive but underpinned by diversity.”
Born in 1929, Gailhoustet dedicated her entire career to developing better social housing in Paris’ suburbs. In Ivry, between the late 1960s and the mid-1980s, Gailhoustet designed the Raspail, Lénine, Jeanne-Hachette and Casanova towers, the Spinoza complex and the terraced apartment buildings, Le Liégat and Marat. Her development of the La Maladrerie district at Aubervilliers, completed in 1984, with a rich blend of flats, an old people’s home, artists’ studios and shops, is a good example of her approach.
Her interest in Parisian suburbs was piqued in 1962, when she joined the office of French architect Roland Dubrelle and participated in the urban renewal of Ivry-sur-Siene. It was in this hugely influential project that she eventually became, together with Jean Renaudie, chief architect.
One of the instantly recognisable features of Gailhoustet’s projects are the staggered and planted terraces that allow nature to permeate domestic spaces in ways that are rarely seen in high-density housing. By using innovative geometries and mixing uses in her buildings, Gailhoustet has created a compelling argument for blurring the boundaries between interior and exterior, and, collective and individual.
Renée Gailhoustet also has taught at the École Spéciale d’Architecture and has published a number of books.
Photo by Valerie Sadoun