David Chipperfield, a British architect, has been awarded the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize, considered the highest honour in the field of architecture. The 69-year-old was recognised for his understated yet transformative designs that confront climate urgencies, transform social relationships and reinvigorate cities. Chipperfield has worked on over 100 projects spanning four decades, including cultural, civic and academic buildings, urban planning and residences. He is renowned for his renovations and reconstructions of old buildings, updating them for the modern age while honouring their history and culture, and preserving the natural environment.
The organisers of the Pritzker Architecture Prize described Chipperfield as a “prolific architect who is radical in his restraint,” demonstrating his reverence for history and culture while honouring the pre-existing built and natural environments. Based in London with offices in four other countries, Chipperfield has worked across Europe, Asia and the United States. He has a reputation for his ability to harmonise the individual and the collective, the private and the public, work and respite.
Chipperfield’s best-known works include the Neues Museum in Berlin, which he rebuilt after it was largely destroyed in World War II. He also reinvented a 16th-century Venice landmark, the Procuratie Vecchie, which redefined the civic ability of this building within the heart of the city to allow general access for the first time. In Asia, Chipperfield’s headquarters for Amorepacific in Seoul harmonised the individual and collective, while the Inagawa Cemetery Chapel and Visitor Centre in Hyogo, Japan, provided places of solitude and gathering for peace and seeking.
Chipperfield was born in London and raised on a farm in Devon, where he developed an early interest in architecture through a collection of barns and outbuildings. He founded his architecture firm in 1984. Upon receiving the award, Chipperfield said he was “so overwhelmed” to become the prize’s 52nd laureate. He sees the award as an encouragement to continue directing his attention not only to the substance of architecture and its meaning but also to the contribution that architects can make to address the existential challenges of climate change and societal inequality.
The Pritzker Architecture Prize was established in 1979 and winners receive a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion. Previous laureates include IM Pei, Zaha Hadid and Shigeru Ban. Last year, Burkina Faso-born Diebedo Francis Kere became the first African winner of the prize. The award recognises architects who have made significant contributions to humanity through their work. It is intended to encourage and inspire new generations of architects to strive for excellence in their field.