[pullquote]"The fact that an architect from China has been selected by the jury, represents a significant step in acknowledging the role that China will play in the development of architectural ideals. In addition, over the coming decades China’s success at urbanization will be important to China and to the world. This urbanization, like urbanization around the world, needs to be in harmony with local needs and culture. China’s unprecedented opportunities for urban planning and design will want to be in harmony with both its long and unique traditions of the past and with its future needs for sustainable development."Thomas J. Pritzker on choosing Wang Shu[/pullquote]
Last Friday, 25 May 2012, Wang Shu, a Chinese architect, was awarded the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize at a ceremony in Beijing at the Great Hall of the People. The China of today is no doubt more focused on function than form when it comes to the aesthetic makeup of its cities, and it's a bit of an understatement to say that much of contemporary urban China isn't... uhh... pretty. But the announcement that Wang Shu would be the 2012 Pritzker Laureate is a reminder that while portions of China finds itself sagging under the weight of rows of drab, uninspiring apartment buildings and shopping malls, there is indeed interesting and groundbreaking work being done that is worth great praise.
One of the hallmarks of Mr. Wang's work is his use of recycled materials in the construction of new buildings, a practice that is particularly poignant in a country that is looking ever towards a future that appears strikingly different than even the China of twenty years ago. The Ningbo Museum, which was completed in 2008, is literally full of the past; much of the building is covered in tiles gathered from old homes that had been leveled to make way for new developments. He also used this technique when designing the Xiangshan Campus at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, where he now lives.
His buildings are visually appealing, conceptually interesting and unique; one can only hope to see more buildings like those designed by Mr. Wang and his like-minded contemporaries in the years to come. Below (and after the jump... ) you will find a selection of photographs of Mr. Wang's work. You can see more on the Pritzker Prize website.