Thursday, February 22

David Chipperfield, the global architect who bets on the local, wins the Pritzker

David Alan Chipperfield (London, 1953) is the winner of the 2023 Pritzker Prize, considered the ‘Nobel’ for architecture and endowed with 100,000 euros. The British architect who brought life back to Berlin’s museum island is one of the greats of his craft and has worked with other great masters. Closely linked to Galicia, where he has built a house in Corrubedo (A Coruña), the global architect has a foundation there that oversees local development and has opened a studio in Santiago de Compostela.

Over four decades, he has signed more than one hundred works of very different types and scales, from civic, cultural and academic centers to residential buildings and urban plans in Asia, Europe and North America. In Spain, he is the author of the Veles i Vents building in Valencia for the Copa América in 2007, of the City of Justice in Barcelona and of social housing in the Madrid neighborhood of Villaverde and the Paseo del Óvalo in Teruel together with Fermín Vázquez.

With the prestigious Chipperfield award, in addition to recognizing his talent, he will receive a juicy check and a bronze medal. But the great honor is to enter a select club with members like Philip Johnson, James Stirling, Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid, Oscar Niemeyer, IM Pei, Norman Foster, Rafael Moneo or Tadao Ando.

«Designing is not inventing colors and shapes. It is about developing a series of questions and ideas that have a certain rigor and consequence. And if you can do that, it doesn’t matter which path you take, as long as you do it well and have been consistent in the process,” says the gifted and versatile designer who restored splendor to the museum complex in the heart of Berlin and placed the bust of Nefertiti under a stylized brick chimney-cone the New Berlin Museum.

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Chipperfield was raised on a rural farm in Devon, South West England. He graduated from the Kingston School of Art in 1976 and the London Architectural Association School of Architecture in 1980, where he honed his critical spirit, reconsidering the potential of each element to expand each project beyond the task itself. .

He worked with masters such as Douglas Stephen, Norman Foster, (Pritzker, 1999), and the late Richard Rogers, (Pritzker, 2007), before founding David Chipperfield Architects in London in 1985. A studio that would open branches in Berlin (1998), Shanghai (2005), Milan (2006) and Santiago de Compostela (2022). Rooted in Galicia, where he spends long periods of time, he designed and built his own house in the town of Corrubedo in A Coruña.

His career began in London’s Sloane Street, designing a commercial interior for the late couturier Issey Miyake, which would lead to work in Japan. The River and Rowing Museum (Henley-on-Thames, United Kingdom, 1989–1997) was his first major work in his native country. One of his great successes has been the reconstruction and reinvention of the Neues Museum (Berlin, 1993–2009) and the recently built James-Simon-Galerie (Berlin, 1999–2018), two essential buildings on the island of museums in the german capital.

«Architects cannot operate outside of society. We need society to come with us. And yes, maybe we can provoke and complain, and we can find models”, has said Chipperfield, an advocate of social and environmental well-being, and very critical of the commodification of architecture that serves global power instead of local society. He has built houses in the Chinese city of Hangzhou. In Venice he has intervened in the Sant Michele Cemetery and the Procuratie Vecchie, the Renaissance buildings in Saint Mark’s Square. In Mexico City, he designed the Jumex Museum (2013) and has just won the competition to remodel and expand the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. In its most technical profile, the offices of Amore Pacific in Seoul (2017) and the Pompidou West Bund Museum in Shanghai (2019)

double profile

In recent years, he has developed a “deep affection and devotion” for Galicia, where he established the RIA Foundation in 2017 that encourages research, promotes ideas and aligns the development and protection of natural environments and buildings related to the global challenges to come. along the coast of the Ría de Arousa. His studio with six employees in Galicia is the demonstration of his double profile as a global and local architect.

“The reality is that good buildings come from a good process and a good process means that you are committing and collaborating with different forces” assures this master builder who has made collaboration with other architects essential in his career.

«I believe that good architecture provides a stage, it is there and it is not there. Like all things that have great meaning, they’re both in the foreground and in the background, and I’m not so fascinated by the foreground all the time,” he says. “Architecture is something that can intensify and support and help our rituals and our lives. The experiences in life that I lean towards and enjoy the most are when normal things have become special instead of where everything is about the special” is another of his declarations of intent.

Chipperfield already had prizes to his credit such as the RIBA Royal Gold Medal (United Kingdom, 2011), the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture, the Mies van der Rohe Award (Spain, 2011) and the Heinrich Tessenow Medal (Germany, 1999). Member of the British Royal Academy of Arts since 2008, he received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2009) and the Praemium Imperiale for Architecture (Japan, 2013). He is a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, the American Institute of Architects and the Association of German Architects.

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