Alberto Campo Baeza, Spanish National Prize for Architecture 2020

The architect, also winner of the BigMat International Architecture Award ’15 Grand Prize, was granted on December 23rd the highest honour for architects in Spain in recognition for a lifetime’s dedication to architecture and teaching.

Office building in Zamora, Spain, Campo Baeza Architecture, BigMat International Architecture Award ’15 Grand Prize © Javier Callejas

The Spanish architect was appointed unanimously as the winner of the 2020 Spanish National Prize for Architecture, the highest recognition awarded annually to outstanding Spanish architects of international renown and represents the highest distinction granted by the Ministry. Previous winners include Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oiza (1946 y 1954), Alejandro de la Sota (1974), José Antonio Corrales and Ramón Vázquez Molezún (1948 and 2001), Miguel Fisac (2002), Juan Navarro Baldeweg (2014), Manuel Gallego Jorreto (1997 and 2008) and Rafael Moneo (1961 and 2015).

De Blas House, 2000 © Hisao Suzuki
Between Cathedrals, Cadiz, 2009 © Javier Callejas

On this occasion, the panel of judges was comprised of the following eminent figures: Alvaro Siza Vieira, winner of the previous year’s award, Manuel Gallego, Estrella de Diego, Elisa Valero, Carme Pigem, Inmaculada Maluenda and Lucía Cano, together with the Director and Deputy Director of the Directorate-General for Urban Agenda and Architecture. Campo Baeza was proposed for this year’s edition of the National Architecture Prize by the Schools of Architecture of Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Valladolid, Pamplona and Granada as well as the Official colleges of architecture of Madrid, Almeria, Asturias and Cadiz, the Universidad San Pablo CEU and the CSCAE.

Alberto Campo Baeza crit session at Technical University of Madrid ETSAM
Alberto Campo Baeza crit session at Technical University of Madrid ETSAM

The award seeks to recognize the architect’s lifelong career; in Alberto Campo Baeza’s case, the jury especially highlighted the coherence of his professional work alongside his teaching career of over 50 years. His creative freedom and his dedication have taken part in the education and training of several generations of architects who have found in his work a source of inspiration.

Caja Granada, 2001 © Roland Halbe

Alberto Campo Baeza is an Emeritus Professor ar the Madrid School of Architecture, where he has been teaching for over 50 years. In his teaching career he has also been a prolific lecturer and professor at the ETH in Zurich, EPFL in Lausanne, University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and the Technische Universität in Wien, among others. In recent years he has been elected Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, Full Member of the Royal Academy Of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Spain, as well as being appointed Doctor Honoris Causa of the CEU San Pablo University. He has received numerous prizes, such as the Piranesi Prix of Rome or the Spanish Architects Association Gold Medal, which is the highest honor given to an architect from within the architecture profession in Spain. In 2015, Alberto Campo Baeza was also winner of the 2013 Big Mat International Architecture Award Grand Prize for an office building in Zamora.

Campo Baeza has publicly expressed his profound gratitude for this prestigious award, which he says owes more to the generosity of the judges than to his own merits. And even though he has received countless awards throughout his life, he continues to highlight the generosity of each and every jury. Of all the awards bestowed on him throughout his lifetime, he says that the one he most cherishes is that of excellence in teaching, awarded by his alma mater, the UPM, in 2012. In accordance with prevailing regulations, 2020 marks Campo Baeza’s final year of teaching as Professor Emeritus at the UPM’s School of Architecture in Madrid, the ETSAM.  In the coming spring semester, he will be teaching in New York, at the NYIT, the New York Institute of Technology.

Gaspar House, 1992 © Alberto Campo Baeza
Centre BIT Mallorca, 1998 © Raúl del Valle


His timeless style of simple, sleek design lines have made Alberto Campo’s works an instant classic of Spanish contemporary architecture. From his renowned houses in Spain such as the Turégano, De Blas or Gaspar Houses in Spain and the Olnick Spanu House in New York, to the widely popular larger buildings like the Benetton Nursery in Venice, Caja de Granada Bank Headquarters in Granada and urban design works like the “Among Cathedrals” square in Cadiz – all of these are examples of an elegant and thoughtful approach to architecture that have brought architecture to a higher standard both in Spain and abroad.

House of the Infinite, 2014 © Javier Callejas
Olnick Spanu House, 2008 © Javier Callejas

In recent years he has finished several buildings – an office building in Zamora (2012), winner of the 13 BigMat International Architecture Grand Prize; the Infinity and Cala houses in Cadiz and Madrid, a Sports Court for the Francisco de Vitoria University – while also winning important international competitions like the Conservation Centre for the Louvre Museum in Lievin (Ex Aequo) and the Extension of the French School in Madrid (which is currently under development).

Guerrero House, 2005© Roland Halbe
Benetton Nursery, 2007 © Hisao Suzuki

Over 30 editions of his books have been printed and published in several languages, “La Idea Construida” [The Built Idea], “Pensar con las manos” [Thinking with your hands], and “Principia Architectonica”. In 2014 he published “Poetica Architectonica”, in 2015 “The Built Idea” was translated into English and Chinese and in 2016 his latest texts were published under the title “Varia Architectonica”. Recently, all his work has been gathered in a book, “Complete Works” by Thames & Hudson, he has published “Teaching to teach”(2017), “Palimpsesto Arquitectonico”(2018), and “Sharpening the Scalpel”(2019).  In 2020, he has published “Trece trucos” and a new book of texts in English, “Rewriting about Architecture”.

Andalucia Museum, 2009 © Javier Callejas
Multi-sport pavilion, 2017 © Javier Callejas

His works have been exhibited in Mies Van der Rohe’s Crown Hall in Chicago IIT, in Palladio’s Basilica in Vicenza, at the Urban Center in New York and at the Church of Santa Irene in Istanbul; at San Pietro in Montorio in Rome; at the prestigious MA Gallery Toto in Tokyo, at the MAXXI Museum in Rome and, more recently, at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York and at the Pibamarmi Foundation in Vicenza.

Rufo House, 2009 © Alberto Campo Baeza