Master of understatement David Chipperfield wins 2023 Pritzker Prize
David Chipperfield has been declared the 2023 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the most distinguished award in architecture. The judges lauded his "subtle yet powerful" body of work, which spans four decades and over one hundred projects throughout Asia, Europe and North America.
Sir David Alan Chipperfield was born in London but raised on a countryside farm in Devon, southwest England, which gave him his first strong impression of architecture, a collection of barns and outbuildings.
He attended and then graduated the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London in 1980. Following this, he had stints working under Douglas Stephen and Pritzker Prize Laureates Norman Foster and the late Richard Rogers, before founding David Chipperfield Architects in 1985.
"I think good architecture provides a setting, it's there and it's not there," said Chipperfield in a statement. "Like all things that have great meaning, they're both foreground and background, and I'm not so fascinated by foreground all the time. Architecture is something which can intensify and support and help our rituals and our lives. The experiences in life that I gravitate toward and enjoy most are when normal things have been made special as opposed to where everything is about the special.
"Designing isn't coming up with colors and shapes. It's about developing a series of questions and ideas which have a certain rigor and consequence to them. And if you can do that, it doesn't matter which path you go down, as long as you go down the path well and have been consequential in the process."
Located on the south bank of the Thames, the River and Rowing Museum is an early highlight of Chipperfield's work and marked his first building completed in his native England, in 1997. The building embraces the spirit of a traditional English neighborhood, while adding a modern spin.
Its pitched roofs are inspired by river boathouses and the traditional wooden barns of Oxfordshire, and are clad with green English oak, which naturally weathers over time. Two structures of transparent glass bases, elevated on concrete pillars to withstand occasional flooding on the site, offer modernity and ensure openness and daylight inside.
Hepworth Wakefield, completed in 2011, is another standout. Located at a historic waterfront conservation district, on a bend of the River Calder in Yorkshire, the art museum is made up of 10 interlinked trapezoidal forms.
The building is accessible only by footbridge and appears to rise out of the river, which also serves as a source of a passive air system that aids heating and cooling. Its interior is a masterclass of natural light, with carefully considered intentional and diffused sunlight ensuring illumination while protecting the sensitive works inside.
Completed in 2017, the Amorepacific Headquarters is a more recent example of Chipperfield's approach to architecture. Created for a Korean beauty company, the Seoul building takes the form of a huge cube which combines office space, a public atrium, museum, library, and restaurants.
Its eye-catching exterior features vertical aluminum fins over its glass facade to provide solar shading, while three large openings connect to a large central courtyard space which has significant greenery and helps maximize ventilation and daylight throughout the building.
"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," said the Pritzker Prize jury citation. "Such a capacity to distill 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."
More examples of Chipperfield's body of work can be seen in our gallery.
Source: Pritzker Prize