Chipperfield Named Pritzker Architecture Prize 2023 Winner

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Civic architect, urban planner and activist Sir David Alan Chipperfield, CH, has been selected as the 2023 Laureate of The Pritzker Architecture Prize.

His work is “subtle yet powerful, subdued yet elegant” and he is “a prolific architect who is radical in his restraint”, according the committee behind the award, which is regarded internationally as architecture’s highest honour.

“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,” the committee said. 

At the same time showing “his reverence for history and culture while honouring the pre-existing built and natural environments”.

Chipperfield’s built works, spanning four decades, are expansive in typology and geography, including more than 100 works ranging from civic, cultural and academic buildings to residences and urban masterplanning throughout Asia, Europe and North America.

▲ Pritzker Architect Prize 2023 Laureate David Chipperfield.

Chipperfield said he was “overwhelmed to receive this extraordinary honour and to be associated with the previous recipients who have all given so much inspiration to the profession”.

 “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 2023 Jury Citation of the Laureate said, “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.”

Chipperfield calculates the environmental and historical impacts of permanence, embracing the pre-existing, designing and intervening in dialogue with time and place to adopt and refresh the architectural language of each locale.

For instance, James-Simon-Galerie (Berlin, Germany, 2018) on a narrow island along the Kupfergraben canal and accessible by the Schlossbrucke bridge, serves as the gateway to Museum Island.

▲ The James-Simon-Galerie, Berlin. Photo: Ute Zscharnt for David Chipperfield Architects

Commanding, though discreet, colonnades with grand scale enclose a terrace, a wide expansive staircase and a manifold of open spaces allow abundant light into the large entryway of the building.

The design enables generous views from within and beyond, even though to adjacent buildings and the surrounding urban landscape.

Tom Pritzker, chair of the Hyatt Foundation, which sponsors the award, said Chipperfield was “assured without hubris, consistently avoiding trendiness to confront and sustain the connections between tradition and innovation, serving history and humanity”.

“While his works are elegantly masterful, he measures the achievements of his designs by social and environmental welfare to enhance the quality of life for all of civilization.”



Selected works


Descriptions from the 2023 Pritzker Architecture Prize official photo book.

▲ Photo: Richard Bryant / Arcaid

River and Rowing Museum
(1997)
Henley-on-Thames, United Kingdom

Located on the south bank of the Thames, the River and Rowing Museum, exhibiting rowing boats, the history of the sport, the River Thames and the town of Henley, marked Chipperfield’s first building in his native England.

Designed during a time when the future of modern architecture seemed uncertain in Great Britain, this building assimilated with and deviated from a traditional English neighborhood.

Locality is reassured in its design, featuring clerestory and pitched roofs inspired by river boathouses and the traditional wooden barns of Oxfordshire, and clad with untreated green English oak—yet two volumes of transparent glass bases, elevated on concrete pillars to withstand flooding, offer a subtle but powerful discourse between modernity and heritage. 

▲ Photo: Iwan Baan

The Hepworth Wakefield
(2011)
West Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Located at the historic Wakefield waterfront conservation district at a bend of the River Calder, The Hepworth Wakefield is exposed on all sides and composed of 10 interlinked trapezoidal volumes, each singular in size and angle.

Accessible only via footbridge, the building appears to rise out of the river, which also serves as a source of a passive air system that aids heating and cooling efficiencies.

The exterior, with its sloped roofs, responds visually to the neighboring mills, warehouses and industrial buildings, while the varying interior galleries are scaled to complement the range of forms by the late artist Barbara Hepworth.

The pitched ceilings admit intentional and diffused sunlight to
accommodate sensitive works on paper, large plasters and sculptures located upstairs.

Ground floor programming is reserved for public access, including a performance space, a learning studio and a cafeteria.

▲ Photo: The Royal Academy of Arts

Royal Academy of Arts Masterplan
(2018)
London, United Kingdom

The masterplan for the venerable Royal Academy of Arts, founded in 1768, unites Burlington House on Piccadilly, its longstanding building since 1868, and 6 Burlington Gardens, a former Senate House acquired by the institution in 1998.

The historic integrity of the buildings were preserved through restorations in collaboration with Julian Harrap Architects but Chipperfield applied a modern intervention to bridge the two buildings, figuratively and literally.

The concrete bridge establishes a new urban identity, overlooking a new sculpture garden, connecting the two opposite entrances that served each of the formerly separate buildings and providing a new public route between Piccadilly and Burlington Gardens.

A light renovation upgraded the main building, while rooms in Burlington Gardens are repurposed to satisfy the evolved needs of its inhabitants—a newly installed architecture space expands the school’s program; a theatre is reinstated but with a sunken floor and circular in shape; a senate room now serves as a cafeteria; and laboratory rooms have become gallery spaces.


Amorepacific Headquarters
(2017)
Seoul, Republic of Korea

The headquarters for Amorepacific harmonises the individual and the collective, the private and the public, work and respite.

Vertical aluminium fins across the glass facade provide solar shading to aid thermal conditions and natural ventilation and create a translucency, encouraging a rapport between the building’s occupants, its neighbours and observers.

Office space is equipoised by a public atrium, museum, library, auditorium and restaurants. A central courtyard allows views through to nearby buildings and hanging gardens further engage the community inside with the elements outside.

▲ Photo, also main image: Simon Menges

Turner Contemporary
(2011)
Margate, United Kingdom

On the north coast of Kent, Turner Contemporary, inspired by the artist JMW Turner, is a dramatic focal point for the neighbourhood.

Accessibility is by design and society. Six identical crystalline volumes lend an essence of transparency, similar to a Turner painting itself, while allowing generous views of the sea.

The programming of historic and contemporary works throughout the public gallery is free.

Design elements are incorporated to mitigate harsh sea conditions such as occasional flooding and overtopping. The building, constructed with a concrete frame and acid-etched glass skin, is also raised on a plinth and incorporates mono-pitched roofs to effectively drain water.

▲ Photo: Keiko Sasaoka

Inagawa Cemetery Chapel and Visitor Centre
(2017)
Hyogo, Japan

At the Inagawa Cemetery Chapel and Visitor Centre, constructed in collaboration with Key Operation Inc and situated in the Hokusetsu Mountains, the physical and spiritual coexist, with places of
solitude and gathering, for peace and seeking.

These interconnected expressions are mirrored in the earth-like red monolithic buildings, with a circulation of stairs and pathways residing amid the sloped terrain.

A shrine is the focal point, atop a grand staircase that serves as an axis, with gardens inspired by Japanese meadows and woodlands.

The centre are diagonal from one another, with interior spaces that are unadorned and minimally heated. 

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