The Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza will today receive one of architecture's most prestigious prizes, the Royal Gold Medal. As part of the Royal Institute of British Architect's (RIBA) celebrations for its 175th anniversary, Siza will be presented with the award by Her Majesty The Queen at a private audience at Buckingham Palace, followed by a celebratory dinner held in his honour at the RIBA.
Awarded in recognition of a lifetime's work, the Royal Gold Medal is approved personally by Her Majesty The Queen and is given annually to a person or group of people whose lifetime's work has had a significant influence on international architecture.
The honour recognises the impact Siza has made on architecture; he is a major figure in European architecture who has remained true to his artistic and ethical principles and achieved a prolific portfolio of work worldwide, which remains rooted in his native city of Porto.
This accolade also recognises the contribution Siza has made to his home country of Portugal, from the low cost housing scheme for the local government of Evora, to the College of Education, Setubal (1993), the University of Oporto Faculty of Architecture (1993) and the Adeaga Mayor Winery (2006). As testament to his international reputation, he has designed buildings in Germany, Spain, Italy, France, the Netherlands and South Korea. Unusually for an architect of such international standing, Siza has deliberately kept his studio small to ensure his attention to every project.
"Alvaro Siza is simply a profoundly complete architect who defies categorisation," said Sunand Prasad, President of the RIBA. "The forging of a masterful and seemingly inevitable architecture out of the possibilities of a site is one of the supreme characteristics of Alvaro Siza's architecture. He manipulates his readings of place into sculptural forms that are never predictable or ordinary, yet are never allowed to dominate over use or typological intelligibility.
"In Siza's buildings, perhaps like no others, it is the relationships between the elements of the architecture that is given primacy rather than the shape or texture of the elements themselves. This is an architecture in which an economy of expressive means is combined with an abundance of spatial revelation."
To celebrate the 175th anniversary of the RIBA, a specially commissioned poem by the Poet Laureate Andrew Motion will be unveiled at the evening ceremony.
The RIBA will also award seven International Fellowships to non-UK architects who have made an outstanding contribution to architecture and 10 Honorary Fellowships to reward the particular contributions people have made to architecture in its broadest sense.
This year's Honours Committee jury was chaired by RIBA President Sunand Prasad and consisted of architects Sir Jeremy Dixon of Dixon Jones, Prof. Kenneth Frampton of Columbia University, Despina Katsikakis of design consultancy DEGW, Pankaj Patel of Patel Taylor, writer Peter Davey OBE and engineer Jane Wernick Hon FRIBA.