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Wang Shu Awarded 2012 Pritzker Prize

April 17, 2012

History Museum in Ningbo 

Meanwhile I was writing the notes about Ai Wei Wei’s exhibition in Paris the 2012 Pritzker Price was awarded to Wang Shu, architect co-founder of Amateur Architecture Studio. The practise is based in Hangzhou and its main works are the  Library of Wenzheng College at the Suzhou University, the Contemporary Art Museum and the History Museum in Ningbo, a Cafe Bar and Gallery in Shanghai, the Campus Building in Xianshan and daring residential developments called Vertical Courtyards.  Reasoning on architecture on the basis of just a couple of pictures is not my habit and I am not going to do it. I find the projects very interesting and hope to have the chance to visit some of them, sooner or later, but in the meanwhile I was strucked by the motivation for the award:

“The fact that an architect from China has been selected by the jury, represents a significant step in acknowledging the role that China will play in the development of architectural ideals. In addition, over the coming decades China’s success at urbanization will be important to China and to the world. This urbanization, like urbanization around the world, needs to be in harmony with local needs and culture. China’s unprecedented opportunities for urban planning and design will want to be in harmony with both its long and unique traditions of the past and with its future needs for sustainable development.”

Untill now I thought the Pritzker Prize was a price for architectural design, the aknowledgemennt for the outstanding work of an individual architect. Apparently this is not the case anymore and it has become a matter of foreign affairs. Anyway, congratulations to Whang Shu and all his fellow colleaugues working the new world power and let’s hope that urban development will really become more and more ” in harmony with local needs and culture”, worldwide.

Decay Dome at the Venice Biennale 2010

Following a statement about the Design Philosophy of the awarded architect and some pictures of his works.

“I design a house instead of a building. The house is the amateur architecture approach to the infinitely spontaneous order. Built spontaneously, illegally and temporarily, amateur architecture is equal to professional architecture. But amateur architecture is just not significant.  One problem of professional architecture is, that it thinks too much of a building. A house, which is close to our simple and trivial life, is more fundamental than architecture. Before becoming an architect, I was only a literati. Architecture is part time work to me. For one place, humanity is more important than architecture while simple handicraft is more important than technology. The attitude of amateur architecture, – though first of all being an attitude towards a critical experimental building process -, can have more entire and fundamental meaning than professional architecture. For me, any building activity without comprehensive thoughtfulness will be insignificant.”

Library Wenzhang College

Contemporary Art Museum in Ningbo

History Museum in Ningbo

History Museum in Ningbo

History Museum in Ningbo

History Museum in Ningbo

History Museum in Ningbo

Vertikal Courtyard

Campus at Xiangshan
One Comment leave one →
  1. July 10, 2012 2:21 pm

    his work and philosophy raise critical issues at a critical time. the timing was right. how many more awards does Holl have to win? recognizing someone who has deep integrity and has opened a dialogue that may have huge impact on our profession is certainly worthy.

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