wang shu wins the 2012 pritzker prize
wang shu wins the 2012 pritzker prize wang shu wins the 2012 pritzker prize
feb 27, 2012

wang shu wins the 2012 pritzker prize

wang shu, chinese architect of the hangzhou-based practice amateur design studio has been announced as the 2012 laureate of the pritzker architecture prize, receiving the most prestigious award to be given in the field of architecture. he will be the first recipient to originate from china and will have the honor of accepting the bronze medallion in beijing, the city which has been recently unveiled as the host of this year’s award ceremony.


revealed by the chairman of the hyatt foundation and sponsor of the prize, thomas j. pritzker stated the following about the jury’s selection: ‘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.’


there are significant questions about the recent process of urbanization in china, whether it should be anchored in tradition or if it should just look toward the future. as in any great architecture, wang shu’s work is able to transcend that debate producing an architecture that is timeless, deeply rooted in its context and yet universal.’ said alejandro aravena, one of the pritzker jurors.


my starting point is always the site, I need to understand about the life, the people, the weather. (…) I know something existed before me – my buildings come from somewhere‘ wang shu says.other architects talk about space. I talk about typology and prototype. the prototype relates to memory.’ he and his wife named their firm amateur architecture studio — ‘amateur’ as someone who engages in an activity for pleasure rather than profit — ‘for myself, being an artisan or a craftsman is an amateur or almost the same thing.’


the architect graduated from the nanjing institute of technology in 1985 and followed with his graduate degree from the same program. his completed works include the ‘ningbo contemporary art museum’ and ‘ningbo history museum’ both located in ningbo, china along with the ‘xiangshan campus of the china academy of art’ in hangzhou, china. temporary works include a pavilion for both the 2010 and 2006 venice architecture biennales. see designboom’s coverage of ‘decay of a dome’, wang shu’s installation from the venice architecture biennale 2010 here.


other awards include the french gold medal from the academy of architecture in 2011 and german shelling architecture prize in 2010 which was jointly given to lu wenyu, his wife and co-founder of their practice. see designboom’s original article here.

‘decay of a dome’ at the venice architecture biennale 2010
see designboom’s original coverage of the installation here
image © designboom | portrait of wang shu © zhu chenzhou

minimally impacting the environment by resting upon the ground, the lightweight structure was intended to be easily assembled and dismantled
image © designboom

‘ultra-light village’ on display in shenzhen’s civic square at the 2011 shenzhen & hong kong bi-city biennale of architecture \ urbanism
see designboom’s initial coverage of the pavilion here
image © designboom

entry to the pavilion
image © designboom

pavilion at night
image © designboom

model of ‘squarely sphering’ on display at ‘verso est’, a survey of contemporary chinese
architecture curated by fang zhenning, exhibition at the MAXXI museum
of 21st century in rome, italy

image © designboom

model of ‘squarely sphering’ on display at ‘verso est’, a survey of contemporary chinese
architecture curated by fang zhenning, exhibition at the MAXXI museum of 21st century in rome, italy
image © designboom

  • thank god. finally chinese architect get this most proud award. so excited“`

    dayong says:
  • jeez, this guys OK but Pritzker Prize material, please….this is a political choice

    steve says:
  • designboom just didn\’t choose the best images to go with this announcement..

    check out amateur architecture studio

    pretty brilliant stuff , although i do get the hint at political decision and it might be a bit the case.

    Jeb says:
  • I think the architecture he has done is the most related to Chinese modern.

    kk says:
  • His works are good ,but where are Arata Isozaki, Toyo Ito , Libeskind?

    Yan song says:
  • Congratulations

    truman says:
  • @Jeb:
    for this announcement we chose images to show his recent experimental works.
    we will follow up with full length articles which explain his projects in greater detail.

    lauren db says:
  • @lauren db

    thanks for the clarification, i might have overreacted a bit in trying to defend
    the choice made for the pritzker to steve.

    designboom isn’t my start-up page for nothing, keep on the great work!

    Jeb says:
  • I think Pritzker quality is getting worse and worse……..if you had to give to a chinese why not mad architects or studio pei zhu……it’s becoming like the Nobel Peace Prize….PURE PR stunt

    swank says:
  • @swank:
    Surely not? MAD Architects and Studio Pei Zhu are basically Chinese versions of Zaha Hadid/Daniel Libeskind/Frank Gehry, churning out parametrically guided architecture with little thought for context, unlike Wang Shu’s work, which is modern yet looks unmistakeably Chinese and very much rooted in tradition. And although there is undoubtedly a political agenda behind this year’s award, this isn’t the first time the award has been given to a little-known architect (last year’s de Moura), and I think it’s a good thing that the Pritzker jury is awarding the prize to less renowned architects with small portfolios of good work, rather than stroking the ego of yet another starchitect with a huge portfolio of mediocre/unbuilt work.

    Dom says:
  • We at Stephenson & Turner would like to congratulate Wang Shu, founder of Amateur Architecture Studio and this year’s recipient of the world’s most prestigious architecture award, the Pritzker Prize.
    Wang Shu’s work is an impressive fusion of traditional and contemporary Chinese architecture that stands out even among the other first class architecture emerging from this country. We recently appreciated his architecture in our blog

    Bernd Gundermann says:
  • fantastic!! It is very enriching to the architectural discourse.

    Piero says:
  • Who is MAD? Who is Zhupei?

    yue says:

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