Monday, 5 March 2012

Wang Shu | Winner of 2012 Pritzker Prize

I am very excited by the news that Wang Shu (Amateur Architecture Studio) was awarded this year's Pritzker Prize. He is the first Chinese architect to receive such a prestigious architecture award.
I remembered attending a lecture he gave at the University of Melbourne. He explained that to him architecture is about everyday life. Practicing architecture can be considered as a having hobby. By doing that, one can be free from of being too rigid and thus lose one’s spontaneity. That was the reason he called his office Amateur Architecture Studio.
When I went to the Shanghai Expo in 2010, Ningbo Tengtou Pavilion was a standout. From far the building looked like a modernist cube. While moving closer, one realized Wang Shu used traditional vernacular building technique (like tiling, brick laying and use of bamboo) to tell a different story. The form was western yet the planning and materials used were typically Chinese. It had a courtyard in the middle where a rice field was inserted. A giant fish tank was used as a threshold. The building used passive cooling method to bring the wind in via the giant holes on the wall, which significantly reduced the indoor temperature. It was the one of the few pavilions that did not have an air-conditional unit.
I hope Wang Shu’s win will herald a new chapter in Chinese architecture.

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