Featured Architect Today: Wang Shu

Wang Shu from China wins Pritzker Prize 2012

The architectural design community through its Pritzker Prize has changed the course of the stars, this time it goes to shine all over China’s native son, Wang Shu. Wang Shu is an epitome of contradiction amidst the glaring giganticism, professional opulence and shallow grandeur of international edifices across the globe.  His small but outstanding body of work is a celebration of poetic ingenuity of cultural continuity and respect for tradition.

Born in 1963, Wang Shu earned his degree in architecture from Nanjing Institute of Technology in 1985. Three years later he received his Masters Degree at the same institute. Upon graduation, he went to work for the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou where he has undertaken research on the environment and architecture in relation to the renovation of old buildings.

Ningbo History Museum, 2003-2008, Ningbo, China

In the next decade or so, he along with his wife Lu Wenyu have worked with craftsmen to gain experience at actual building and without the responsibility of design. Afterwards, Shu and his wife founded their four man team professional practice “Amateur Architecture Studio” in 1997.  Pritzker’s decision to hand over the Prize to Wang Shu, is a testament that China is slowly entering to the gilded halls of international recognition and development of architectural ideas.  In explaining the merit of their decision to bestow the  prize, considered as the Nobel Prize for Architecture, they noted that Shu’s work embodies  the “harmony of urbanization with the local needs and culture”.

Pritzker Foundation has acknowledged the role of China’s unprecedented opportunity for urban planning and design along with its long and unique tradition of its past and its future needs for sustainable development.Wang Shu’s five major projects are all in China, which some can be found in his home region of Zhejiang near Shanghai. They include three college campuses and the Ningbo History museum, which showcased his strong sense of respect to culture by mixing modern design with traditional materials.

Wang Shu is the first Chinese citizen to win the Pritzker Prize, though in 1983, I.M.Pei, who is naturalized Chinese American  immigrant at that time won the award for his work for Louvre Pyramid in Paris, France.  Wang Shu joined the ranks of Pritzker awardees of notable architects who practice the art of architecture in their respective countries such as; Eduardo Souto de Moura from Portugal, Peter Zumthor from Switzerland, Glenn Murcutt from Australia and Paulo Mendes da Rocha of Brazil.

Ningbo History Museum, 2003-2008, Ningbo, China

Vertical Courtyard Apartments, 2002-2007, Hangzhou, China

Library of Wenzheng College, 1999-2000, Suzhou, China

Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, Phase I, 2002-2004, Hangzhou, China

Five Scattered Houses, 2003-2006, Ningbo, China

Ceramic House, 2003-2006, Jinhua, China

Ningbo Tengtou Pavilion, Shanghai Expo, 2010, Shanghai, China

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  • “Quote-Unquote”

    “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”-Leonardo da Vinci (Italian draftsman, Painter, Sculptor, Architect and Engineer whose genius epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal. 1452-1519)
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