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Chinese Architect Wins Top Prize for First Time [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2012-2-28 08:54:36 |Display all floors
This post was edited by goldengrove at 2012-2-28 09:08

It seems that Chinese artists, apart from Ai Weiwei, do get recognized after all.

The following article is from the New York Times.


Xingshan campus.jpg

Xingshan Campus of Chinese Academy of Arts which Wang Shu designed.

The Chinese architect Wang Shu, whose buildings in a rapidly developing China honor the past with salvaged materials even as they experiment with modern forms, has been awarded the 2012 Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Mr. Wang is the first Chinese citizen to win the prize (I. M. Pei, an American, was the first Chinese-born architect to win, in 1983) and the fourth-youngest.

The selection of Mr. Wang, 48, is an acknowledgment of “the role that China will play in the development of architectural ideals,” said Thomas J. Pritzker, chairman of the Hyatt Foundation, which sponsors the prize and announced the winner on Monday.

The question of the proper relation of present to past is particularly timely, for the recent process of urbanization in China invites debate as to whether architecture should be anchored in tradition or should look only toward the future,” the jury said in its citation. “As with 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.”

The prize, founded in 1979 by Jay A. Pritzker and his wife, Cindy, to honor a living architect, consists of a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion, which this year will be awarded at a ceremony in Beijing on May 25.

Mr. Wang’s major projects, all in China, include two in Ningbo, a coastal city south of Shanghai: the Ningbo Contemporary Art Museum, completed in 2005, and the Ningbo Historic Museum, completed in 2008.

With the history museum, a commission Mr. Wang won in 2004 after an international competition, he sought to evoke what life used to be like in this harbor city.

The museum, which includes recycled architectural materials from the area, “is one of those unique buildings that while striking in photos, is even more moving when experienced,” the jury said. “The museum is an urban icon, a well-tuned repository for history and a setting where the visitor comes first.”

In designing the Xingshan Campus of the China Academy of Art in his native Hangzhou, Mr. Wang also reused materials, covering the campus buildings with more than two million tiles from demolished traditional houses.

"Everywhere you can see, they don’t care about the materials,” Mr. Wang said in an interview. “They just want new buildings, they just want new things. I think the material is not just about materials. Inside it has the people’s experience, memory — many things inside. So I think it’s for an architect to do something about it.”

Inspired by his father, a musician and amateur carpenter, and his mother, a teacher and school librarian, Mr. Wang seemed to be headed toward a career as an artist or a writer, though his parents pushed him to study science and engineering. He compromised by going for an architecture degree from the Nanjing Institute of Technology, where he also earned a master’s.

His first job was researching the old buildings at Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou as it underwent a renovation. His first architectural project — a youth center for the small town of Haining, also in Zhejiang Province, near Hangzhou — was completed in 1990.

In 1997, after a decade of working with various craftsmen to gain building experience, Mr. Wang and his wife, Lu Wenyu, founded their own practice in Hangzhou, called Amateur Architecture Studio.

The firm’s name was chosen to emphasize the spontaneous and experimental, Mr. Wang said. His work has an earthy, industrial quality, with unorthodox, angular shapes that in some cases echo his passion for calligraphy.

"My work is more thoughtful than simply ‘built,’ ” he said, adding that the “handicraft aspect” of his work was important to him, as a contrast to what he considers much of the “professionalized, soulless architecture, as practiced today.”

Mr. Wang has likened architecture to creating a Chinese garden: it requires the ability to be flexible, to improvise and to solve unexpected problems. He brought this sensibility to his breakout project, the Library of Wenzheng College at Suzhou University, which was completed in 2000 and received the Architecture Art Award of China in 2004.

Honoring both the environment and traditions of Suzhou, a city famous for its gardens, he was careful to make his work as unobtrusive as possible: nearly half the building is underground.

"Wang Shu’s oeuvre, seen in depth by the jurors during a visit to China, left no doubt that we were witnessing the work of a master,” said Lord Palumbo, the Pritzker’s chairman.

Mr. Wang says he approaches design as a traditional Chinese painter would; he studies the settings — whether cities, valleys or mountains — for about a week as the design materializes in his mind.

The plan for the Ningbo Historic Museum, for example, came to him one night when he could not sleep, he said. He got out of bed and started drawing in pencil: the structure, space sizes, entrance locations and other aspects.

"Then,” he said, “I drank tea.”

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