Marco Casagrande, principal of the Casagrande Laboratory in Helsinki, Finland, and WEAK in Taipei, Taiwan, has been awarded the 2013 European Prize for Architecture. The annual award—presented by the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies—recognizes architects who pursue a more humanist and social-based form of architecture.
Casagrande spans multiple disciplines, including environmental artist, urban philosopher, architectural theorist, writer, and professor of architecture. “Casagrande is a model for today’s young design professional of what an architect should be: visionary, aesthetic, intellectual, and socially responsible,” Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, the Finnish museum president of the Chicago Athenaeum, said in a statement. He also credited the architect for expanding “the traditional boundaries of architecture, pushing that envelope beyond ‘accepted norms’ and the ‘standard perimeters’ of design practice, to include architecture as environmental art and sculpture.”
From 1998-2003, Casagrande collaborated with Finnish architect Sami Rintala (now Rintala Eggersson Architects in Oslo. The team produced architectonic installations that straddled the line between architecture and environmental art. One of their more controversial projects, Redrum, implemented Alaska Railroad oil tanks cut into 12 pieces and turned into a temple structure. Casagrande and Rintala intended to comment on the connection of oil, war, and environment, but local media called the 2003 installation "a slap in the face to Alaskans.”
Casagrande’s most notable projects over the last several years include Ruin Academy (2010), an independent crossover architectural research center in an urban area of Taipei designed to re-think the industrial city and the man in the box; Cicada (2011), an organic bamboo pavilion providing acupuncture to the surrounding industrial city in Taipei City; and Sandworm (2012), a willow cathedral for Beaufort04 Triennial of Contemporary Art in Wenduine, Belgium, which Caagrande considers part architecture, part environmental art.
Past recipients of the European Prize for Architecture include architect Bjarke Ingels, Graft Architekten, and TYIN tegnestue Architects. Casagrande will be honored during the 14th International Biennial of Architecture Buenos Aires, September 24-27.