Retrofit champion Lacaton & Vassal wins Soane Medal 2023

And RIBA president Muyiwa Oki said Lacaton & Vassal ‘elevate architecture to new heights’, proving the discipline ‘isn’t simply about bricks and mortar, but about creating spaces that make you enjoy life that little bit more’.

‘Their philosophy of architecture is, thus, aligned with contemporary concerns with sustainability and climate change.’

The previous winners of the Soane Medal are Peter Barber, Bangladeshi architect Marina Tabassum, architectural historian Kenneth Frampton, American architect Denise Scott Brown and Spanish architect Rafael Moneo.

Source:Philippe Ruault

The Soane Award is handed to architects, critics or educators who have ‘made a major contribution to their field through practice, history or theory’.

Frac Nord-Pas de Calais, Dunkirk, by Lacaton and Vassal

Alice Rawsthorn (Chair of 2023 Soane Medal Jury), author and design critic

The practice, founded in Paris by Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal in 1987, becomes the sixth recipient of the award, bestowed annually by Sir John Soane’s Museum in memory of its eponymous founder, a Regency-era architect.

‘They have a holistic approach to buildings and see the role of an architect as much to observe and advise as to build.

Eric Parry, architect, founder and principal, Eric Parry Architects

Dr Bruce Boucher, Deborah Loeb Brice director of Sir John Soane’s Museum

Lacaton and Vassal were formally awarded the Soane Medal at a ceremony at Sir John’s Soane’s Museum last night (28 November).

Alice Rawsthorn, a design critic and chair of the Soane Medal jury, said: ‘Lacaton & Vassal’s priority is to avoid unnecessary waste by transforming buildings in ways that will be beneficial for the occupants, the local community and its ecology.

Stephanie Macdonald, co-founder, 6a

Edwin Heathcote, architecture and design critic, Financial Times

Ingrid Schroder, director, Architectural Association School of Architecture

Amin Taha, architect and chairperson, GROUPWORK


FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais, Dunkirk (2013)

Source:Philippe Ruault

The architects said: ‘What comes after should always be better than what was there before. The buildings that people inhabit – their homes, workplaces and social spaces – should bring pleasure; architecture should be generous and free.

The Soane Medal 2023 jury: 

‘We are overjoyed to be awarded this year’s Soane Medal. As Soane furthered the discipline in his own time, we are pleased to join a group of medallists who demonstrate architecture’s role in each aspect of society today.’

Maison Lapatie, Bordeaux, France, by Lacaton & Vassal

The duo, whose design mantra is ‘never demolish’, won the Pritzker Prize in 2021.

Sir John Soane’s Museum director, Bruce Boucher, said: ‘Lacaton & Vassal’s approach to architecture conforms very much with the spirit of the Soane Medal.

He added: ‘Their work takes a page from Sir John Soane’s own playbook, using light and space to create playful environments that bring the outside in and that show the extraordinary in the ordinary.’

‘By doing so, they have quietly produced some of the most important buildings of our time. All their projects are defined by the needs and wishes of the people who will use them, and their personal responsibilities as architects.’