Paola Viganò wins the Schelling Award for Architectural Theory
Paola Viganò, an architect, urbanist and full professor at EPFL and Iuav University of Venice, has won the prestigious Schelling Award in recognition of her crucial contribution to urgent urban development issues.
The Schelling Architecture Foundation has selected EPFL professor Paola Viganò as the winner of the 2022 Schelling Award for Architectural Theory. “Paola Viganò is one of the key voices in the European debate on pressing issues of today’s urban development – questions that she addresses in her theoretical writings, but also gives answers to as a practical planner,” notes the Foundation on its website.
The Foundation also mentions the research carried out by Viganò, a trained architect and urbanist, into the inequalities of urban development in the context of globalization and the spatial requirements for an inclusive city: “Her work could be interpreted as an ecological continuation of the discussion about the intermediate city, which has become extremely topical today with respect to the housing shortage and the question of urban expansion.”
A 30-year career still going strong
Born in Sondrio, Italy, Paola Viganò studied architecture at the University of Florence and completed her PhD at Iuav University of Venice. In 1990, she opened her own studio with Bernardo Secchi. She subsequently worked as a visiting professor at the Catholic University of Louvain, EPFL, Aarhus School of Architecture in Denmark, Harvard GSD and the University of Virginia.
In 2013, Viganò became the first woman to win the Grand Prix de l’Urbanisme in France, and in 2016 she was awarded an honorary doctorate at the Catholic University of Louvain (as part of the “Year of Utopias for our Time”). She also received the 2017 Ultima Architectuur Prize from the Flemish Ministry of Culture for Architecture and the 2018 Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement at the Triennale di Milano.
It was in 2013 that Viganò began teaching at EPFL, where she leads the Laboratory of Urbanism and Urban Design (LAB-U) and the Habitat Research Center (HRC) on urbanization in transition.
Major urban projects
Viganò’s studio has won multiple international competitions, including the new Theater Square and Spoornoord Park in Antwerp, which were both named best public spaces in Flanders. Her studio was hired as an external consultant to create the City Structural Plan, a system of public spaces in Mechelen, which was a finalist in the European Public Space Award. The work by her studio on the Courrouze district in Rennes earned it the 2011 EcoQuartier “Nature in Cities” prize from the Ministry of Ecology.
Viganò’s studio has also shaped major international urban development projects for large metropolitan areas such as Greater Paris, Brussels 2040, Lille 2030, Montpellier 2040 and the New Moscow.
Since 2015, her studio has worked on urban and landscape projects in Europe, including the Lecco waterfront, Antwerp Over de Ring, public spaces in Brussels, the Plan Guide Cœur de Métropole in Brest, the Flaminio neighborhood in Rome and the Lugano PdCom.
The Schelling Awards
The Schelling Architecture Foundation hands out the Schelling Award for Architecture and the Schelling Award for Architectural Theory once every two years. The awards, which include 30,000 euros in prize money, recognize future-oriented developments in architecture as well as incisive accomplishments in architectural theory. An international panel of seven people selects the winner.
Past winners include American architect Keller Easterling, a professor at Yale University; Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa, a former professor of architecture at Helsinki University of Technology and the former director of the Museum of Finnish Architecture; British architect Kenneth Frampton, a professor of architecture at the Graduate School of Architecture and Planning at Columbia University in New York; and the late Swiss architect Martin Steinmann, a professor of architectural design and theory at EPFL from 1987 to 2007.