Chinese architect Wang Shu has been named the 2012 Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate, marking the first time a Chinese architect has been honored prize which brings a bronze medal and $100,000 purse. Wang Shu is known for building with traditional Chinese forms and materials, often recycling bricks and tiles to form a patchwork mosaic in his buildings, which demonstrate a distinct modern sensibility. He is professor and head of architecture at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, China and founded Amateur Architecture Studio with Lu Wenyu in 1998 where he has taken an outspoken stance against architecture that he perceives as destroying vast urban and rural landscapes across China.
Amateur Architecture Studio derives its name from the traditional building practices of the amateur Chinese builders who have crafted cities for centuries. He spent years learning from these craftsman and brought back the traditional building techniques to mix with his experimental and site-specific practice at Amateur Architecture Studio.
“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,” said Thomas J. Pritzker, chairma
n of the Hyatt Foundation which sponsors the prize. “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.”
Wang Shu has previously been awarded the Gold Prize from the French Architectural Academy in 2011, the Schelling Architecture Prize in 2010, and the Holcim Award for Sustainable Construction in 2005. He also received a Special Honor at the 2010 Venice Biennale and was the Kenzo Tange professor at the Harvard GSD, which has previously been held by Alvaro Siza, Peter Zumthor, and Raphael Moneo among others. He delivered the Tange lecture at Harvard last November titled “Geometry and Narrative in Natural Form,” which you can watch below. The formal awards ceremony for the Pritzker Prize will take place in Beijing on May 25.