Chicago, IL (March 7, 2023) – Civic architect, urban planner and activist, Sir David Alan Chipperfield CH has been selected as the 2023 Laureate of The Pritzker Architecture Prize, the award that is regarded internationally as architecture’s highest honor.
Subtle yet powerful, subdued yet elegant, he is a prolific architect who is radical in his restraint, demonstrating his reverence for history and culture while honoring the preexisting built and natural environments, as he reimagines functionality and accessibility of new buildings, renovations and restorations through timeless modern design that confronts climate urgencies, transforms social relationships and reinvigorates cities.
“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,” remarks Chipperfield. “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. 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.”
The Pritzker Prize is conferred in acknowledgment of those qualities of talent, vision and commitment, which have persistently produced significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture. The career of David Chipperfield is marked by a long term, rigour and consistency in a body of work that has seamlessly integrated and balanced both terms of that equation.
The careful, well-crafted, precise and calm responses he has offered to the goals aspired to in his buildings can only originate in a deep and sustained knowledge of the discipline. Yet, those responses are never self-centred, nor do they serve in any way as art for art’s sake: rather, they always remained focused on the higher purpose of the undertaking and on the pursuit of civic and public good.
Always characterized by elegance, restraint, a sense of permanence, as well as clear compositions and refined detailing, his buildings each time exude clarity, surprise, sophisticated contextuality and confident presence. In an era of excessive commercialization, over-designing, and over-exaggeration, he can always achieve balance: between a modern minimalistic architectural language and freedom of expression, between abstract statements and rigorous elegance never devoid of complexity.
In his persistent search for a diverse, solid and coherent body of work, David Chipperfield manages not to deviate from a serious consideration of the genius loci—the spirit of the place—or of the growing diverse cultural contexts in which he works. We do not see an instantly recognizable David Chipperfield building in different cities, but different David Chipperfield buildings designed specifically for each circumstance. Each asserts its presence even as his buildings create new connections with the neighbourhood. His architectural language balances consistency with the fundamental design principles and flexibility towards the local cultures. He includes colonnades in his European projects and courtyards in the Chinese ones, he utilizes local materials in luxurious ways, ordinary techniques in complex structures. He enhances the quality of people’s lives through a poetic sensation that always flows from his buildings. 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.
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. 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.