Today the Pritzker Architecture Prize jury has selected British architect, urban planner and activist- David Chipperfield (formally known as Sir David Alan Chipperfield CH) as the 2023 recipient of its prestigious award, regarded globally as architecture’s highest honour. Last year, Francis Kéré was the first black architect to win the prize, while in 2021 Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal were awarded for their mutual practice. SURFACES REPORTER (SR)'s this report contains more details about 69-year-old Sir David Alan Chipperfield CH, his notable works, and what makes the jury choose him as this year's Noble laureate in architecture.
The London-based ace architect is the 52nd Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. With the winning of this esteemed award, the architect joins the list of past winners including Zaha Hadid (2004), Eduardo Souto de Moura (2011), Shigeru Ban (2014), Balkrishna Doshi (2018), and Diébédo Francis Kéré (2022). The architect leads offices in Milan, Berlin, Shanghai and Santiago de Compostela.
Museo Jumex in Mexico City
The elated architect expresses, " I am so overwhelmed to receive this extraordinary honour and to be associated with the previous recipients who have all given so much inspiration to the profession.
“I take this award as an encouragement to continue to direct my attention not only to the substance of architecture and its meaning but also to the contribution that we can make as architects to address the existential challenges of climate change and societal inequality," he adds.
He continues, "We know that, as architects, we can have a more prominent and engaged role in creating not only a more beautiful world but a fairer and more sustainable one too. We must rise to this challenge and help inspire the next generation to embrace this responsibility with vision and courage.”
His Life Journey
Born in London in 1953, David Alan Chipperfield was raised on a farm in Devon, in the southwest of England. According to him, his earliest memories of architecture are from the gathering of barns and outbuildings on the farm, which suffused him with a sense of reminiscence.
He did his graduation from the Kingston School of Art in 1976 and the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London in 1980. Soon after that, he started doing work under Douglas Stephen, Norman Foster, the 1999 Pritzker Prize Laureate, and the late Richard Rogers.
One Pancras Square
He set up his own firm in 1985 in London and completed a number of commissions in Japan, where his humble approach reconciled with the nation's own minimalist aesthetic. He was interested in building more outside the UK instead within it. He was working immensely in continental Europe, North America and Asia while extending his own business in Berlin, Milan and Shanghai.
The majority of his famous projects are works of restoration and renovation instead of structures built from scratch.
His Notable works
In his four decades of a successful career, his works are expansive in typology and geography, including over one hundred works ranging from civic, cultural and academic buildings to residences and urban master planning throughout Asia, Europe and North America. He is famous primarily for his cultural projects, comprising Museo Jumex in Mexico City, expansion to the Saint Louis Art Museum in Missouri and the restoration and reconstruction of the Neues Museum in Berlin.
Significant works also include the River and Rowing Museum (Henley-on-Thames, United Kingdom, 1997), BBC Scotland headquarters (Glasgow, United Kingdom, 2007), Turner Contemporary (Margate, United Kingdom, 2011), Campus Saint Louis Art Museum (Missouri, United States of America, 2013), Campus Joachimstraße (Berlin, Germany, 2013), One Pancras Square (London, United Kingdom, 2013), Royal Academy of Arts masterplan (London, United Kingdom, 2018), Hoxton Press (London, United Kingdom, 2018) and Kunsthaus Zürich (Zurich, Switzerland, 2020).
The reason behind choosing him as the 2023 Pritzker laureate was to see his devotion towards architecture. The Jury citation reads, “This commitment to an architecture of understated but transformative civic presence and the definition—even through private commissions —of the public realm, is done always with austerity, avoiding unnecessary moves and steering clear of trends and fashions, all of which is a most relevant message to our contemporary society."
River and Rowing Museum
"Such a capacity to distil and perform meditated design operations is a dimension of sustainability that has not been obvious in recent years: sustainability as pertinence, not only eliminates the superfluous but is also the first step to creating structures able to last, physically and culturally, the jury continues.
The works by Chipperfield showcase a perfect assessment of the environmental and historical impacts of permanence, taking up the pre-existing, designing and intervening in dialogue with time and place to adopt and refresh the architectural language of each locale. If we look at his work James-Simon-Galerie (Berlin, Germany, 2018), which is positioned on a narrow island and serves as the gateway to Museum Island. The design enables munificent vistas from within and beyond, even through neighbouring buildings and the adjoining city backdrop.
Commenting on this work, Tom Pritzker, Chairman of the Hyatt Foundation says, " He is assured without hubris, consistently avoiding trendiness to confront and sustain the connections between tradition and innovation, serving history and humanity."
Admiring his works, he continues, " While his works are elegantly masterful, he measures the achievements of his designs by social and environmental welfare to enhance the quality of life for all of civilization.”
The Neues Museum, Berlin
His project- The Neues Museum (Berlin, Germany, 2009), originally constructed in the mid-19th century and left devastated and inhabitable during World War II, demonstrates Chipperfield’s discernment between preservation, reconstruction and addition.
The new is in conversation with the old, as the architecture of the past is brought to the foreground, yielding moments of modernity such as a striking new main stairwell flanked by walls revealing traces of original frescoes and repurposed materials, even those that were marred by wartime blemishes. Generous outdoor space makes it a connector for all, even for those who never enter the galleries.
Another Jury Chair- Alejandro Aravena, who is also the winner of the 2016 Pritzker Prize, explains, " In a world where many architects view a commission as an opportunity to add to their own portfolio, he responds to each project with specific tools that he has selected with preciseness and great care."
He keeps on saying, “Sometimes it requires a gesture that is strong and monumental, while other times, it requires him to almost disappear. But his buildings will always stand the test of time because the ultimate goal of his operation is to serve the greater good. The avoidance of what’s fashionable has allowed him to remain permanent.”
Campus Saint Louis Art Museum
Further, his restoration and reinvention of the Procuratie Vecchie (Venice, Italy, 2022), which dates back to the 16th century, redefined the civic ability of this building within the heart of the city to allow general access for the first time.
He intertwined art, architecture and craft. For his projects, he called upon traditional craftsmen to revive original frescoes, terrazzo and pastellone flooring and plasterworks, uncovering layers of history, while incorporating local artisan and building techniques to produce modern correlative interventions such as a vertical circulation.
Whether through public or private buildings, he bestows unto society the opportunity for coexistence and communion, protecting individuality while fostering a societal sense of belonging.
"The work of David Chipperfield unifies European classicism, the complex nature of Britain, and even the delicateness of Japan. It is the fruition of cultural diversity," mentions the 2023 Citation.
The 2023 Pritzker Prize ceremony will take place in Athens, Greece this May.
* Image credits: Archdaily, Wikipedia, David Chipperfield Architects
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