Carme Pinós and Her Work

The idea of “story” is a theme that runs through the work and philosophy of Carme Pinós. Carme Pinós leads Estudio Carme Pinós in Barcelona, Spain, a firm she established in 1991 after international recognition for her work with Enric Miralles from 1982-1991. Her work spans diverse contexts, programs and scales in Europe and Latin America — from urban landscapes, office towers, cultural and sports centers, and educational institutions to public housing and furniture design.

In her award-winning structures and landscapes, the relationship of form, material, and context to the experience of those destined to occupy the spaces she designs creates stories that become the basis of her architecture—“I strive to give architecture poetic value and always try to look for a story that people recount…. that architectural spaces can generate.”

For Carme Pinós, the human experience is never absent from her designs. Though remarkable for their bold geometry and sinuous sculptural forms, she does not strive to create signature heroic buildings, but rather experiential volumes. Her work honors the responsibility of architecture to serve a community, creating spaces that are conscious of the social intercourse that occurs with and within them. Carme Pinós believes that architecture should act as a trigger for relationships, a means of encouraging encounters and dialogs that create human connection.

While she values the sweeping abstracts of form, she never divorces her buildings from the environment. The poetry of Carme Pinós’ designs embraces their context. She explains, “I do not imagine buildings to be just objects supported on the ground but as volumes that appropriate the outside, thus creating an intimate and indissoluble junction.” This approach is clearly evident in her design for the CaixaForum Museum and Cultural Center in Zaragoza, Spain that connects with distant perspectives through open and transparent ground-floor spaces that extend the park into the city by passing under the building.

Other notable projects include the Cube Office Tower I in Guadalajara, Mexico, models of which were acquired by the MOMA; Departments Building in WU Campus in Vienna, Austria — a game of parallelepipeds which resolve in a systematic way a repetitive program at the same time that it tries to create public space; and the Pizota Hotel in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, which is enlaced by the surrounding nature. Models of the Pizota Hotel and the CaixaForum Museum and Cultural Center were acquired by Centre Pompidou in Paris. She crafted a Master Plan for the historic center of Saint Dizier, France, and also designed La Serra High School in Mollerussa, Spain; Ses Estacions Park in Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Juan Aparicio Seafront in Torrevieja, Spain; Sports Centre Sarriguren in Valle de Egües, Spain and the JVC Cultural and Business Center Fairgrounds in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Celebrated alongside other leading women architects making an impact, Carme Pinós generously shares her talent on behalf of young practitioners entering the field, as well as in support of women in developing countries. A proposed project in Burkina Faso, in collaboration with associations of women agricultural producers, hopes to develop a new vegetable-based thermal insulation for local housing.

Carme Pinós’ broad and extensive teaching activities have allowed her to combine the development of innovative projects with reflection and communication, and to promote critical thought. She has taught at IUAV of Venice, École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture – Paris-Malaquais and Paris Val de Seine, France; Universitá degli Studi Roma Tre, Italy; Academia di Architettura di Mendrisio, Switzerland; Università degli studi di Sassari, Alghero, Italy; Harvard University Graduate School of Design; Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale, Lausanne, Switzerland; Columbia University, New York; and Kunstakademie of Düsseldorf, Germany, among others.

Carme Pinós is an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Her work has been widely published and exhibited, and garnered numerous awards which include the 2016 Neutra Medal for Professional Excellence by Cal Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design, rewarding her entire career. In 2015 she was honoured with the Creu de Sant Jordi Medal, one of the highest civil distinctions awarded by the Catalan Government to individuals and organizations for their cultural and social services in Catalonia. She has also received the First Prize at the 2008 Spanish Biennial of Architecture, the National Award for Public Architecture by the Catalan Government in 2008 and the National Architecture Award by the High Council of Spanish Architects. She was made Honorary member of the American Institute of Architects in 2011 and RIBA International Fellow in 2013 for her outstanding contribution to architecture.