Press release
3 Feb, 2015, 3pm
The Alvar Aalto Medal has been awarded to the Spanish architect duo Fuensanta Nieto and Enrique Sobejano. First awarded in 1967, the medal was now presented for the twelfth time. The winners were announced at a seminar marking Architecture Day at Helsinki City Hall on February 3rd, 2014.
Creative collaborators since the early 1980s, Nieto and Sobejano are renowned for the great variety of their portfolio, although their best-known works are galleries and museums. Employing a team of forty, Nieto Sobejano Architects has offices based in Madrid and Berlin. The duo has received abundant professional recognition, including the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Their work has also been exhibited at the Venice Biennale and at MoMa in New York. Both architects divide their time between creative assignments and lecturing at European University of Madrid and the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK).
The architectural philosophy of Nieto and Sobejano is strongly rooted in the culture and history of their homeland. Both have ranked among Spain’s leading architects since 1975.
The jury commented as follows: “The work of Nieto and Sobejano demonstrates how an architect’s cultural background can inspire architecture of outstanding quality and expressive power. Nieto and Sobejano’s work has a primal energy ranking it among the world’s most compelling statements and groundbreaking achievements in architecture.”
The jury further added that Nieto and Sobejano restore faith in the adaptability of contemporary western architecture, also answering the contemporary demand for sustainability and ecological sensitivity.
The outstanding quality of Nieto and Sobejano’s work is essentially rooted in traditional, widely-recognized values in architecture. They are masters of light, creating clean, crisply resonating sequences of spaces. Their outstanding professionalism shows in their talent for stripping spaces of all superfluous, distracting elements. Their strong sense of structure and its innovative variation is beautifully expressed in works such as the Contemporary Art Center (Córdoba, Spain, 2013), where clean geometrical concrete surfaces form sequences of nuanced interiors, the wall structures evoking an inventive architectural identity that is completely unique to this building. A heightened sense of structure and robustness is similarly foregrounded in another of their major projects, the Auditorium and Convention Centre of Aragon Expo (Zaragoza, Spain, 2008).
Nieto and Sobejano always prioritize the environment when designing. In their latest competition entry for the Arvo Pärt Centre (Laulasmaa, Estonia, 2014), they have adapted their philosophy to Nordic latitudes and a northern boreal setting. History and climate likewise inspired the subterranean design of the Museum & Research Centre Madinat Al Zahra (Córdoba, Spain, 2009), which blends subtly with the flat plains surrounding it.
The Jury noted that Nieto and Sobejano have enjoyed a rising career path that in many respects brings to mind Alvar Aalto. “Their portfolio is varied and instantly recognizable, maintaining outstanding standards of creative excellence, informed by a philosophy of respect for human life and the environment. Nieto & Sobejano proudly carry on a tradition of humanism in architecture,” stated the chairman, Rainer Mahlamäki.
The members of this year’s jury were professor and architect Rainer Mahlamäki (Finland), architect Simo Freese (Finland), architect Wessel de Jonge (The Netherlands) and professor and architect Dorte Mandrup–Poulsen (Denmark).
The medal is conferred by the Museum of Finnish Architecture, the Finnish Association of Architects SAFA, the Architectural Society, the Alvar Aalto Foundation and the City of Helsinki.
For more information and press images, please contact:
Ilona Hildén

Fuensanta Nieto and Enrique Sobejano
Photo by ©2010 Luis Sevillano (Ediciones EL PAÍS, SL)
Expansion of the San Telmo Museum
Photo by Roland Halbe
Moritzburg Museum Extension
Photo by Roland Halbe