David Chipperfield is Pritzker Prize winner 2023

James-Simon-Galerie (right), photo courtesy of Ute Zscharnt for David Chipperfield Architects.

His works are characterized by sensitivity to the site and the environment and show mastery of formal language

He is a master of contrasts and yet an architect of the utmost sensitivity to what he finds on a building site and around it. Sir David Chipperfield is the 2023 Pritzker Prize winner, considered the Nobel Prize of architecture, endowed with US-$100,000 from the Hyatt Foundation.

One of the spectacular works from his architecture and urban planning in Asia, Europe, and North America was the James Simon Gallery in Berlin (2018). The photo above shows how elegantly and yet provocatively Chipperfiled connected the new fassade to its surroundings on Berlin‘s Museum Island.

James-Simon-Galerie, photo courtesy of Simon Menges.

The challenge was to accommodate a new building on the only vacant site left on Museum Island. Everything there is World Heritage, and Chipperfield found a way to extend the formal language of the past with modern rows of columns, for example. In place of the natural stone, he used specially developed concrete with a high proportion of natural stone powder.

For the new Kunsthaus Zürich (2020), on the other hand, he chose Krastal marble for the facade. Natural stone is also found on the buildings all around.

Neues Museum, photo courtesy of SMB / Ute Zscharnt for David Chipperfield Architects.

His refurbishment of the Neues Museum (completed in 2009) on Berlin‘s Museum Island was also sensitive. The building had remained in ruins after World War 2 and had increasingly fallen into disrepair. As a contrast to the new elements, Chipperfield retained the traces that time had left in the building: Thus, today, the visitor begins his path in the basement with the sarcophagi of the Ancient Egyptians and walks upwards along the cultural testimonies of many centuries and just as much along the traces of war.

Spectacular, because quite unspectacular, was his modernization of the New National Gallery (2021) also in Berlin: practically nothing of the original building substance of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was changed by the even famous Chipperfield, he placed himself with the necessary innovations entirely in the service of the great architect.

America’s Cup Building ‘Veles e Vents,' photo courtesy of Christian Richters.Hoxton Press, photo courtesy of Simon Menges.

We continue with quotations from the Hyatt-Foundation’s press release: As his practice grew more prolific, so did his advocacy for social and environmental welfare, censuring the commodification of architecture that serves global power rather than local society, and the interrelated lack of permanence that contributes to the climate crisis. “Architects can’t operate outside of society.We need society to come with us. And yes, maybe we can provoke and complain, and we can find models.But we need a planning framework, we need ambitions, we need priorities. Essentially, what we have to hope now is that the environmental crisis makes us reconsider priorities of society, that profit is not the only thing that should be motivating our decisions.”

The Hepworth Wakefield, photo courtesy of Iwan Baan.Museo Jumex, photo courtesy of Simon Menges.

Over recent years, he has developed a profound fondness and devotion to the community of Galicia, one of Spain’s poorest regions that paradoxically prospers with a high quality of life. Establishing the Fundación RIA in 2017, Chipperfield sponsors research, promotes ideas and aligns future development fostering locally-focused protection to the natural and built environments related to global challenges along the coast of the Ría de Arousa.

He has received awards including 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). He was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts (2008), awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2009), and the Praemium Imperiale for Architecture (Japan, 2013), and is a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and an honorary fellow of the American Institute of Architects and the Bund Deutscher Architekten.

Chipperfield was the curator of the 13th Biennale Architettura in 2012. He was Professor of Architecture at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Stuttgart from 1995 to 2001 and Norman R. Foster Visiting Professor of Architectural Design at Yale University in 2011.
He was appointed as Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2004, knighted in 2010 and appointed to the Order of the Companions of Honour in 2021.

David Chipperfield Architects

Sir David Alan Chipperfield, photo courtesy of Tom Welsh.

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(07.03.2023, USA: 03.08. 2023)