“Brazilian brutalist” Mendes da Rocha wins RIBA Gold Medal

Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha has been named as the 2017 winner of the Royal Gold Medal for architecture, after winning both the Praemium Imperiale prize and the Venice Architecture Biennale Golden Lion this year.

Described by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) as Brazil’s most celebrated living architect, Mendes da Rocha, 87, will be presented with the medal in early 2017 in a formal ceremony.

“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 have given to the progress of architecture and society,” said Mendes da Rocha.

He is known as the “Brazilian brutalist” for his particular and distinctive design style and is considered largely responsible for the modernisation of Sao Paulo, but has built few significant structures outside of his home country – making his clean sweep of prizes even more unusual.

He also won the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s equivalent of the Nobel, in 2006.

“Paulo Mendes da Rocha’s work is highly unusual in comparison to the majority of the world’s most celebrated architects,” said RIBA president Jane Duncan.

“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 1950s Brazil – raw, chunky and beautifully ‘brutal’ concrete,” she added. “Paulo Mendes da Rocha is a world-class architect and a true living legend.”