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Architecture: The Pritzker Prize 2012 Wang Shu

Who is Wang Shu and his architectural designs

It was announced on February 27, the winner of the Pritzker Prize this year 2012 is the Chinese architect Wang Shu. For his design for the Historish Museum the Nangbo, China. The Pritzker prize is comparable to a Nobel-prize in Architecture. Wang Shu is the first architect of China to win the award (let us remember that IM Pei was Chinese, but worked only in America). According to the Hyatt Foundation, presenter of the prize, Shu gets the prize for his traditional method of building and his use of recycled materials. The prize this year is already shrouded in much controversy, with professionals in dividing negative and positive opinions. Fact is that Pritzker has been gradually moving away from the award of major stars. Frank Gehry and Rem Koolhaas have won 1989 and in 2000. To reveal and enforce the disclosure of talented architects and little known outside their country of origin. If the award was deserved, only time will tell. At the moment, the fact is, that we know a little bit more about the work of an architect who formed and operates in a country still closed today as the Republic of China, can be important.
Chinese architect Wang Shu
Chinese architect Wang Shu
Unusually for an internationally decorated architect, Wang’s five major projects are all in China, many in his home region of Zhejiang near Shanghai. They include three college campuses and the Ningbo History Museum, and his work typically mixes modern design with traditional material. For the Art Academy in his native city, Hangzhou in 2007. He (re)used more than two million traditional Chinese tiles from demolished houses. He gave the tiles a second life by using them in the first phase for the campus of the academy. That same year he built the Vertical Courtyard Apartments, consisting of six towers with 26-storey component. The project has been nominated in 2008 for the International High-Rise Award.
The campus of the Art Academy in Hangzhou.
The campus of the Art Academy in Hangzhou.
The jury declared the buildings of Wang Shu are of the past without direct reference to the history. “Wang Shu’s architecture is an example of his strong sense of cultural continuity and renewal of tradition. The work of Wang Shu transcends the debate over whether to architecture something is what only have to look forward and not back. Making his projects into timeless architecture, deeply rooted in its context and yet universal. Wang Shu knows the challenges of a building and to embrace them and turn them in his favor. His approach is both critical and experimentally. With the use of recycled materials he brings the message; Of the careful use of existing resources and technology, and to act with respect for existing traditions, particularly in China.
Ceramic House, 2003-2006, Jinhua
Ceramic House, 2003-2006, Jinhua

Wang Shu showed himself surprised at his laureate. In a first reaction, he said “The award comes as a big surprise. I realize suddenly that I‘ve made a lot of things happend. It proves that hard work and perseverance leads to achieve positive results.

Ceramic House, 2003-2006, Jinhua
Ceramic House, 2003-2006, Jinhua

Word by Wang Shu;

The History Museum of Ningbo is the result of an international competition held in 2004. What is the main concept that permeates the project?

Wang Shu Says; I joined two ways of thinking: I have defined as a small town and a small mountain. Ningbo is a new Chinese city with urban planning pattern with wide roads, large buildings and blocks of low density. This is an bad urban model, why because it doesn’t account for the vast growing population of China. I work for a city that want to improve their structure. So I designed it as a small autonomous city. Another issue is that I wish my architecture communicate to people how life in this town used to be. Ten years ago this used to be a very beautiful port city. Now everything was demolished. We then collected construction materials in this area to recycle, for that reason, even though I won the competition, the local government did not like my project.
Ningbo Museum of History
Ningbo Museum of History
Why not?

Wang Shu Says; They think the city is modern and in need of a modern building. But when the building was completed and the people saw the real thing, they loved it. I think it is an interesting process. You see some architecture on paper and like immediately, but people seeing something like this is difficult to imagine how it will be built and how it will look like at the end. Go beyond your imagination and experience.
 

Some projects of Wang Shu:
Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, Phase I, 2002-2004, Hangzhou
Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, Phase I, 2002-2004, Hangzhou
New Academy of Art Hangzhou
New Academy of Art Hangzhou
Zhongshan Road
Zhongshan Road
Cerâmica House
Cerâmica House
Ningbo Museum of History
Ningbo Museum of History

These are photographs of the architecture of Wang Shu, and his firm, Amateur Architecture Studio, based in Hangzhou.

Story by: Gabriëlle Voogt

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