Chinese architect Wang Shu, from the Hangzhou-based practice Amateur Design Studio he established with his wife Lu Wenyu, has been announced as the 2012 laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, architecture’s most prestigious award.
The field of architecture was chosen by the Pritzker family because of their keen interest in building due to their involvement with developing the Hyatt Hotels around the world; and because architecture was a creative endeavor not included in the Nobel Prizes. The procedures were modeled after the Nobels, with the final selection being made by the international jury with all deliberations and voting in secret. Nominations are continuous from year to year with hundreds of nominees from countries all around the world being considered each year.
Chairman of the Hyatt Foundation and sponsor of the prize, Thomas J. Pritzker shared the thoughts behind the jury selection:
‘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.’
‘There are significant questions about the recent process of urbanization in China, whether it should be anchored in tradition or if it should just look toward the future. As in any great architecture, Wang Shu’s work is able to transcend that debate producing an architecture that is timeless, deeply rooted in its context and yet universal.’ said Alejandro Aravena, one of the Pritzker jurors.
‘My starting point is always the site, I need to understand about the life, the people, the weather. (…) I know something existed before me - my buildings come from somewhere’ Wang Shu says, ‘other architects talk about space. I talk about typology and prototype. The prototype relates to memory.’
Along with his wife, Shu established Amateur Architecture Studio – referencing ‘amateur’ as someone who engages in an activity for pleasure rather than profit — ’for myself, being an artisan or a craftsman is an amateur or almost the same thing.’
Graduating from the Nanjing Institute of Technology in 1985 , Amateur Architecture Studio completed works include the ‘Ningbo Contemporary Art Museum’ and ‘Ningbo History Museum’ both located in Ningbo, China along with the ‘Xiangshan Campus of the China Academy of Art’ in Hangzhou, China. Temporary works include a pavilion for both the 2010 and 2006 Venice Architecture Biennales.
This year’s jury members included Australian architect and 2002 Prizker laureate Glen Murcutt, and 2004 Pritzker recipient Zaha Hadid.
READ ‘Decay of a Dome’, Wang Shu’s installation from the Venice Architecture Biennale 2010 here as reported by designboom.
IMAGES :: Ningbo History Museum, 2003-2008 // Ceramic House, 2003-2006, © Lv Hengzhong // Five Scattered Houses © Lang Shuilong // Shainghai Pavillion 2012 (c) Lu Wenyu //