Eduardo Souto de Moura wins Pritzker Prize

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Eduardo Souto de Moura 2011 Pritzker Prize by Francisco Nogueira

Dezeenwire: Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura is the 2011 Pritkzer Prize laureate, the prize organisers have confirmed after details of the winner were leaked ahead of schedule. Read the full announcement below: Portrait is by Francisco Nogueira.

More about the Pritzker Prize on Dezeen »

Here are some more details from the prize organisers:


Portuguese Architect Will Be Presented the 2011 Pritzker Architecture Prize in Washington, D.C.

Los Angeles, CA—Eduardo Souto de Moura, a 58 year old architect from Portugal, is the jury’s choice for the 2011 Pritzker Architecture Prize, it was announced today by Thomas J. Pritzker, chairman of The Hyatt Foundation which sponsors the prize. The formal ceremony for what has come to be known throughout the world as architecture’s highest honor will be in one of Washington, D.C.’s finest classical buildings, the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium.

In announcing the jury’s choice, Pritzker elaborated, “This marks the second time in the history of the prize that a Portuguese architect has been chosen. The first was in 1992 when Alvaro Siza was so honored.”

The purpose of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, which was founded in 1979 by the late Jay A. Pritzker and his wife, Cindy, is to honor annually a living architect whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture. The laureates receive a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion.

Pritzker Prize jury chairman, The Lord Palumbo, spoke from his home in the United Kingdom, quoting from the jury citation that focuses on the reasons for this year’s choice: “During the past three decades, Eduardo Souto de Moura has produced a body of work that is of our time but also carries echoes of architectural traditions.” And further, “His buildings have a unique ability to convey seemingly conflicting characteristics — power and modesty, bravado and subtlety, bold public authority and a sense of intimacy —at the same time.”

As a student, Souto de Moura worked for Alvaro Siza for five years. Since forming his own office in 1980, Souto de Moura has completed well over sixty projects, most in his native Portugal, but he has designs in Spain, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom and Switzerland. The projects include single family homes, a cinema, shopping centers, hotels, apartments, offices, art galleries and museums, schools, sports facilities and subways.

His stadium in Braga, Portugal was the site of European soccer championships when it was completed in 2004, and gained high praise. Nearly a million and a half cubic yards of granite were blasted from the site and crushed to make concrete for the stadium. Precise explosions of a mountain side created a hundred foot high granite face that terminates one end of the stadium. Souto de Moura describes this coexistence of the natural with the man made construction as good architecture. In his own words, “It was a drama to break down the mountain and make concrete from the stone.” The jury citation calls this work, “...muscular, monumental and very much at home within its powerful landscape.”

Another of his projects, the Burgo Tower, completed in 2007, constructed in the city where he lives and works, Porto, Portugal, is described by the jury as, “...two buildings side by side, one vertical and one horizontal with different scales, in dialogue with each other and the urban landscape.” Souto de Moura commented that “a twenty story office tower is an unusual project for me. I began my career building single family houses.”

Souto de Moura has designed numerous residences, one of which, House Number Two built in the town of Bom Jesus, was singled out by the jury for its “uncommon richness throughout the subtle banding in the concrete of its exterior walls.” Souto de Moura’s comments on the project: “Because the site was a fairly steep hill overlooking the city of Braga, we decided not to produce a large volume resting on a hilltop. Instead, we made the construction on five terraces with retainer walls, with a different function defined for each terrace-- fruit trees on the lowest level, a swimming pool on the next, the main parts of the house on the next, bedrooms on the fourth, and on the top, we planted a forest.”

Another project in his native city, Porto, is the Cultural Center completed in 1991, which the jury describes as “a testament to his ability to combine materials expressively.” He used copper, stone, concrete and wood.

A convent and monastery in a mountainous terrain near Amares, Portugal, called Santa Maria do Bouro was a project for Souto de Moura from 1989 to 1997, in which he converted the centuries old structure into a state inn. He recalls the walls were over four feet thick. Originally built in the 12th century, the jury declares in their citation that Souto de Moura “has created spaces that are both consistent with their history and modern in conception.”

Souto de Moura, in describing another of his projects, has said, “After the painter Paulo Regio chose me as her architect, I was lucky to be able to choose the site. It was a fenced off forest with some open space in the middle. On the basis of the elevation of the trees, I proposed a set of volumes of varying heights. Developing this play between the artificial and nature helped define the exterior color, red concrete, a color in opposition to the green forest. Two large pyramids along the entrance axis prevent the project from being a neutral sum of boxes.” The Paulo Regio Museum completed in 2008, is cited by the jury as “both civic and intimate, and so appropriate for the display of art.”

Often described as a “Miesian architect,” the jury acknowledged this influence with the words, “He has the confidence to use stone that is a thousand years old or to take inspiration from a modern detail by Mies van der Rohe.”

Upon learning that he was being honored, Souto de Moura had this reaction: “When I received the phone call telling me I was to be the Pritzker Laureate, I could hardly believe it. Then I received confirmation that it was actually true, and I came to realize what a great honor this is. The fact that this is the second time a Portuguese architect has been chosen makes it even more important.”

The distinguished jury that selected the 2011 Pritzker Laureate consists of its chairman, The Lord Palumbo, internationally known architectural patron of London, chairman of the trustees, Serpentine Gallery, former chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain, former chairman of the Tate Gallery Foundation, and former trustee of the Mies van der Rohe Archive at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and alphabetically: Alejandro Aravena, architect and executive director of Elemental in Santiago, Chile; Carlos Jimenez, professor, Rice University School of Architecture, principal, Carlos Jimenez Studio in Houston, Texas; Glenn Murcutt, architect and 2002 Pritzker Laureate of Sydney, Australia; Juhani Pallasmaa, architect, professor and author of Helsinki, Finland; Renzo Piano, architect and 1998 Pritzker Laureate, of Paris, France and Genoa, Italy; and Karen Stein, writer, editor and architectural consultant in New York. Martha Thorne, associate dean for external relations, IE School of Architecture, Madrid, Spain, is the executive director of the prize.

In addition to the previous laureates already mentioned, the late Philip Johnson was the first Pritzker Laureate in 1979. The late Luis Barragán of Mexico was named in 1980. The late James Stirling of the United Kingdom was elected in 1981, Kevin Roche in 1982, Ieoh Ming Pei in 1983, and Richard Meier in 1984. Hans Hollein of Austria was the 1985 Laureate. Gottfried Böhm of Germany received the prize in 1986.  Robert Venturi received the honor in 1991, and Alvaro Siza of Portugal in 1992. Christian de Portzamparc of France was elected Pritzker Laureate in 1994.

Frank Gehry of the United States was the recipient in 1989, the late Aldo Rossi of Italy in 1990. In 1996, Rafael Moneo of Spain was the Laureate; in 1997 the late Sverre Fehn of Norway; in 1998 Renzo Piano of Italy, in 1999 Sir Norman Foster of the UK, and in 2000, Rem Koolhaas of the Netherlands. Australian Glenn Murcutt received the prize in 2002. The late Jørn Utzon of Denmark was honored in 2003; Zaha Hadid of the UK in 2004; and Thom Mayne of the United States in 2005. Paulo Mendes da Rocha of Brazil was the Laureate in 2006, and Richard Rogers received the prize in 2007. Jean Nouvel of France was the Laureate in 2008. In 2009, Peter Zumthor of Switzerland received the award. Last year, two Japanese architects were honored, partners Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA, Inc.

The field of architecture was chosen by the Pritzker family because of their keen interest in building due to their involvement with developing the Hyatt Hotels around the world; and because architecture was a creative endeavor not included in the Nobel Prizes. The procedures were modeled after the Nobels, with the final selection being made by the international jury with all deliberations and voting in secret. Nominations are continuous from year to year with hundreds of nominees from countries all around the world being considered each year.

The site for this year’s ceremony, the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium was erected between 1932 and 1934, and is part of a large nine-building office complex called the Federal Triangle. At the time of its construction, it was the largest government owned assembly space in the city, and considered as one of the most magnificent settings for government ceremonies. It was designed by San Francisco based architect Arthur Brown, Jr. Originally called the Departmental Auditorium, it was renamed in 1987, the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium.

Citation from the Jury

During the past three decades, Portuguese architect Eduardo Souta de Moura has produced a body of work that is of our time but also carries echoes of architectural traditions. His oeuvre is convincing proof of mod- ern idiom’s expressive potential and adaptability to distinct local situations. Always mindful of context, understood in the broadest sense, and grounded in place, time, and function, Souto de Moura’s architecture reinforces a sense of history while expanding the range of contemporary expression.

Already in his first works, undertaken in the 1980s, Souto de Moura had a consistent approach that never ad- opted the trends of the moment. At that time, he was intensely out of fashion, having developed his individual path during the height of postmodernism. As we look back today, the early buildings may seem normal, but we must remember how brave they really were back then.

The versatility of his practice is evident in the variety of commissions he has undertaken with success. He is capable of designing from domestic to urban scale. Many of his early works in the 1980s were single-family houses and remain among his seminal works. However, the scope of his work has expanded: the Braga Mu- nicipal Stadium, Portugal, designed in 2000 is muscular, monumental and very much at home within its pow- erful landscape; the Burgo Tower, Portugal, designed at the beginning of the 1990s and built a decade later, consists of two buildings side by side, one vertical and one horizontal with different scales, in dialogue with each other and the urban landscape; the Paulo Regio Museum, completed in 2008, a grouping of volumes interspersed in the trees at its site in Cascais, Portugal, is both civic and intimate, and so appropriate for the display of art.

In their apparent formal simplicity, de Souto de Moura’s buildings weave together complex references to the characteristics of the region, landscape, site, and wider architectural history. Often simple geometries are underlined through interplay of solid and void or light and shadow. The restoration and adaptation of the Santa Maria Do Bouro Monastery into a hotel has taken a building from ruble to reinterpretation. Souto de Moura has created spaces that are both consistent with their history and modern in conception. The effectiveness of his works usually stems from the juxtaposition of elements and concepts. His unique capacity to embrace reality while employing abstraction creates an architectural language that transforms physicality into the metaphysical.

Souto de Moura is an architect fascinated by the beauty and authenticity of materials. His knowledge of construction and skill with materials are always visible in his buildings. He has the confidence to use stone that is a thousand years old or to take inspiration from a modern detail by Mies van der Rohe. The thoughtful use of copper, stone, concrete and wood in the Cultural Center in Porto, completed in 1991, for example, is a testament to his ability to combine materials expressively. By modifying pavements, textures, pathways and public spaces for the subway system of Porto, he has granted new significance to public spaces. House Number Two, built in the town of Bom Jesus, Portugal, in 2007, has achieved an uncommon richness through the subtle banding in the concrete of its exterior walls.

Eduardo Souto de Moura’s architecture it is not obvious, frivolous, or picturesque. It is imbued with intel- ligence and seriousness. His work requires an intense encounter not a quick glance. And like poetry, it is able to communicate emotionally to those who take the time to listen. His buildings have a unique ability to convey seemingly conflicting characteristics—power and modesty, bravado and subtlety, bold public author- ity and sense of intimacy—at the same time. For architecture that appears effortless, serene, and simple, and for the care and poetry that permeates each project, Eduardo Souta de Moura receives the 2011 Pritzker Architecture Prize.

The Jury

Chairman: The Lord Palumbo, Architectural Patron, Chairman of the Trustees, Serpentine Gallery Former Chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain Former Chairman of the Tate Gallery Foundation Former Trustee of the Mies van der Rohe Archive at the Museum of Modern Art, New York London, England

  • Alejandro Aravena, Architect and Executive Director of Elemental, Santiago, Chile
  • Carlos Jimenez, Professor, Rice University School of Architecture Principal, Carlos Jimenez Studio Houston, Texas
  • Glenn Murcutt Architect and Pritzker Laureate 2002 Sydney, Australia
  • Juhani Pallasmaa, Architect, Professor and Author Helsinki, Finland
  • Renzo Piano, Architect and Pritzker Laureate 1998 Paris, France and Genoa, Italy
  • Karen Stein, Writer, editor and architectural consultant New York, New York

Executive Director:  Martha Thorne, Associate Dean for External Relations IE School of Architecture Madrid, Spain

About Eduardo Souto de Moura

Eduardo Souto de Moura was born in Porto, Portugal in 1952. His father was a doctor (ophthalmologist) and his mother a home maker. He has one brother and one sister. The sister is also a doctor and his brother is a lawyer with a political career – formerly he was Attorney General of Portugal.

Following his early years at the Italian School, Souto de Moura enrolled in the School of Fine Arts in Porto, where he began as an art student, studying sculpture, but eventually achieving his degree in architecture. He credits a meeting with Donald Judd in Zurich for the switch from art to architecture. While still a student, he worked for architect Noé Dinis and then Álvaro Siza, the latter for five years. While studying and working with his professor of urbanism, Architect Fernandes de Sá, he received his first commission, a market project in Braga which has since been demolished because of changing business patterns.

After 2 years of military service he won the competition for the Cultural Centre in Porto. The beginning of his career as an independent architect.

He is frequently invited as a guest professor to Lausanne and Zurich in Switzerland as well as Harvard in the United States. These guest lectures at universities and seminars over the years have afforded him the opportunity to meet many colleagues in the field, among them Jacques Herzog and Aldo Rossi.

He is married and he has 3 daughters: Maria Luisa, Maria da Paz e Maria Eduarda. His wife, Luisa Penha, and the eldest daughter are architects, the second is a nurse and the third is on the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Oporto for the 3rd year.

Along with his architecture practice, Souto de Moura is a professor at the University of Oporto, and is a visiting professor at Geneva, Paris-Belleville, Harvard, Dublin and the ETH Zurich and Lausanne.

Often described as a neo-Miesian, but one who constantly strives for originality, Souto de Moura has achieved much praise for his exquisite use of materials -- granite, wood, marble, brick, steel, concrete -- as well as his unexpected use of color

Souto de Moura is clear on his view of the use of materials, saying, “I avoid using endangered or protected species. I think we should use wood in moderation and replant our forests as we use the wood. We have to use wood because it is one of the finest materials available.”

In an interview with Croquis, he explained, “I find Mies increasingly fascinating... There is a way of reading him which is just to regard him as a minimalist. But he always oscillated between classicism and neoplasticism...You only have to remember the last construction of his life, the IBM building, with that powerful travertine base that he drilled through to produce a gigantic door. Then on the other hand, he arrived in Barcelona and did two pavilions, didn’t he? One was abstract and neo plastic and the other one was classical, symmetrical with closed corners...He was experimenting. He was already so modern he was ‘post’.”

Souto de Moura acknowledges the Miesian influence, speaking of his Burgo Tower, but refers people to something written by Italian journalist and critic, Francesco Dal Co, “it’s better not to be original, but good, rather than wanting to be very original and bad.”

At a series of forums called the Holcim Forum on sustainable architecture, Souto de Moura stated, “For me, architecture is a global issue. There is no ecological architecture, no intelligent architecture, no sustainable architecture — there is only good architecture. There are always problems we must not neglect; for example, energy, resources, costs, social aspects — one must always pay attention to all these.”

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| 14 comments

Posted on Monday, March 28th, 2011 at 8:34 pm by . See our copyright policy. Before commenting, please read our comments policy.

  • josito

    parabéns!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ganea.adrian Ganea Adrian

    didnt see to many of his projects on dezeen… to bad! because he is a very good architect!

  • Alfonso Rodríguez

    Interesting: Herzog and de Meuron are not in your Pritzker laureates list :p

    • SAM

      They got it in 2001…

  • Philip

    Good–the prize still has its prestige. I don't know what I would have done if some of the names floating around had won it instead.

  • Marco

    Surprising! I had a strong feeling it would be David Chipperfield.

  • http://www.bg-studio.com Marin

    Finally…he really deserve it…

  • tan

    glad to hear my roots with talent againt the big sharks of archi

  • James

    I think this is the short list for architects that have yet to be recognized.

    Santiago Calatrava
    Steven Holl
    Toyo Ito
    Diller + Scofidio

    I'm guessing Tschumi, Eisenman, Lynn, and other theory-dependent architects are on the outside looking in.

  • john graham

    his work is out of date, and not cutting edge. it is derivative of the same style people have been using since Mies Van Der Roh. Dishonors the prize's mission to support architectural progress, not regression.

    • Space

      Dear Mr Graham, you should visit some of his buildinds. You may change opinion…
      P.s. – Regression?…What's wrong with clean and coherent architecture?

    • http://www.facebook.com/ganea.adrian Ganea Adrian

      "dishonors the prize's mission to support achitectural progress, not regression"?! i think you are not in the right place and you should learn something about The Pritzker Prize. as for the cutting edge stuff, im sorry but you are talking about fashion. it's spelled (Ludwig) Mies van der Rohe.
      stop criticising without being informed.

  • shmark

    Holy &*(^#…maybe I'll win next year!

  • http://www.space-workshops.co.uk jill

    didn't realize this guy had won the pritzker. Well deserved