Join us on Thursday, January 25 for the 2024 Annual Swanson Lecture. This year’s lecture will be presented by Flores & Prats Architects. The lecture will be held in deSalle Auditorium at Cranbrook Art Museum and is free and open to the public.

According to Flores & Prats, it is not only people that contain the memory of a place, the buildings too are loaded with memories of the uses and lives that occupy them; the built fabric is a reflection of social behaviour. It speaks of a way of using the ground, the sky, as a way of inhabiting. To read the memory held in buildings and people is to think about a future that counts on that past.

When a building is closed and abandoned, it remains alive in the memories of those who live around it. The abandoned building is embedded with the civic and moral values that time has given it through its use, containing the stories of the people who experienced the place over the years and have created an invisible constellation of social relationships that expand the influence of this construction to a universe around it, including to those that may form future associations with its materiality and story.

Recuperating and reusing an existing construction is to consider that it is part of an emotional heritage as much as a physical heritage, and an effort should be made to keep these memories inside the building. This is a design decision of major ideological importance because for us the idea of patrimony has nothing to do with what is valuable or monumental, it does not come from ‘pater’, it cannot be imposed from above, but instead arises from time and experience, from what is radically collective.

About Eva Prats & Ricardo Flores 

Eva Prats (Barcelona, 1965) is an Architect for the School of Architecture of Barcelona, and Doctor in Architecture for the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology RMIT. Ricardo Flores (Buenos Aires, 1965) is an architect for the University of Buenos Aires, Master in Urban Design and Doctor of Architecture for the School of Architecture of Barcelona. In 1998 Eva and Ricardo established Flores & Prats Architects, an architectural studio dedicated to the confrontation of theory and academic practice with design and construction activity. The practice has worked throughout Europe on projects of adaptive reuse, social housing, and urban public spaces with neighbours’ participation.  

Flores & Prats has received several national and international awards, including the Grand Award in Architecture at the Royal Academy of Arts of London 2009, the City of Barcelona Award 2016, the City of Palma Award 2017, the AD Architects of the Year 2018, and the AR New into Old Award 2019. In addition, Eva has been nominated for the Women in Architecture 2019, awarded by the British magazines The Architectural Review and Architect’s Journal. The studio has also been nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Awards on several occasions, and exhibited in the last five editions of La Biennale di Venezia, including 2023 with their proposal ‘Emotional Heritage’ at Le Corderie dell’Arsenale. 

Besides their professional practice, Eva and Ricardo have been Professors of Design Studios at the School of Architecture of Barcelona since 2002, and Eva Prats has been a Full Professor at the Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio since 2023. 

The annual Swanson lecture is sponsored by the J. Robert F. Swanson Fund.

The J. Robert F. Swanson Lecture Fund at Cranbrook Academy of Art was established in 1983 by the family of J. Robert F. Swanson, a noted architect who was also the son-in-law of Eliel Saarinen. Each year, the Swanson Lecture brings to the Cranbrook campus architects, designers, artists, or scholars who have received critical acclaim for their work and enjoy a sustained record of excellence and achievement in their respective fields.  J. Robert F. Swanson and his wife and lifelong design partner, Pipsan Saarinen Swanson, founded their firm Swanson Associates in 1947 and worked on many exteriors and interiors, including residences, schools, universities, churches, airports, banks, government, industrial and commercial projects.

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