Jean-Philippe Vassal is Principal of Lacaton & Vassal Architectes, based in Paris.
He is an associate professor at Universität der Künste Berlin (2012-).
Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal are The Pritzker Architecture Prize laureates of 2021. “Not only have they defined an architectural approach that renews the legacy of modernism, but they have also proposed an adjusted definition of the very profession of architecture. The modernist hopes and dreams to improve the lives of many are reinvigorated through their work that responds to the climatic and ecological emergencies of our time, as well as social urgencies, particularly in the realm of urban housing. They accomplish this through a powerful sense of space and materials that creates architecture as strong in its forms as in its convictions, as transparent in its aesthetic as in its ethics.” – jury citation (in part), 2021.
Jean-Philippe Vassal and Anne Lacaton formed architectural practice Lacaton & Vassal in Bordeaux in 1987. Lacaton & Vassal received the Grand Prix National d’Architecture in France (2008).
The firm designed the Palais de Tokyo contemporary art gallery in Paris, completed in 2001. The project, a bare bones reclamation of a semi-derelict art deco building near the Seine, was short-listed for the Mies van der Rohe prize (2003) and has been immensely influential as perhaps the most extreme of found-space galleries.
Openly proclaiming to be a reflection and search for architectural economy, the work undertaken by Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal focuses on reduced-cost constructions in order to rejuvenate the dialogue with contracting authorities. Research on hybridizations, between a contemporary building concept and the use of the most diversified techniques, produces projects that make the most of construction programs by upsetting building contractors’ standard usages.
In 2005, Lacaton & Vassal and architect Frédéric Druot were selected to reshape the Tour Bois le Prêtre, a 17-story housing tower on the city’s northern edge designed by architect Raymond Lopez in 1957. The team cut away most of the thick façade’s panels, installing balconies and large sliding windows in their place. Besides opening the apartments to more natural light, the units were significantly enlarged and opened, and the firm installed new plumbing, bathrooms, ventilation, and electric systems. The project won the Design of the Year by the UK’s Design Museum (2013). The practice has received several awards, among them the Erich Schelling Award (2006), International Fellowship of the Royal Institute of British Architects (2009), and the Daylight and building components of the Velum Foundation, Copenhagen (2011).
Jean-Philippe Vassal graduated from the School of Architecture, Bordeaux in 1980, and spent the following five years in Niger as an architect and urban planner. He has been visiting professor at the Architecture School of Versailles (2002-06); Architecture School of Bordeaux (1992-99); Peter Behrens School of Architecture at the Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences (2005); Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin) (2007-10); Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL Lausanne) (2010-11); Universität der Künste Berlin (UDK Berlin) (since 2012); and at the Pavillon Neu ize OBC-Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2013-14), at Sassari University in Alghero (2014 & 2015).
He presented a keynote address at the 2nd International LafargeHolcim Forum 2007 in Shanghai and he presented the case study Transformation of a housing block in St. Nazaire in the workshop Manage complexity – With integral solutions to an economy of means at the 3rd International LafargeHolcim Forum 2010 in Mexico City.
He was a member of the LafargeHolcim Awards jury for Europe (2008 & 2011), and head of the LafargeHolcim Awards jury for Europe (2014).