Pritzker Prize winners call for better built environments at UN

Some of the world’s most acclaimed architects have given their thoughts on the challenges facing the built environment at a Pritzker Laureates' discussion at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The 2016 Pritzker Prize winner, Chile’s Alejandro Aravena, participated in the event – called The Pritzker Laureates' Conversation: Challenges Ahead for the Built Environment – yesterday (5 April) alongside Glenn Murcutt, Jean Nouvel, Renzo Piano, Christian de Portzamparc, Richard Rogers and Wang Shu.

In a wide-ranging discussion which touched on challenges such as mass urbanisation, climate change, population growth and bureaucratic planning policies, each speaker underlined the need for positive action among architects, designers, planners, governments and end-users to improve the spaces where we live, work and relax.

Among the points raised, Rogers warned that the role of architect has become “that of a decorator” instead of a leader seeking to improve built environments; Nouvel challenged the rules and regulations restricting innovative architecture around the world, particularly in his native France; and Murcutt called for more buildings "which look good in real life and not just in photographs.”

Piano said that the outer reaches of cities presented huge challenges due to deprivation, but that when cities grow in the future, it will be these areas which become the new centres. He called for an increase focus on the periphery.

CLAD editor, Liz Terry, was live tweeting from the event, capturing the panel’s hard-hitting points and calls for action. See the complete feed at