Wang Shu wins
Pritzker Prize 2012


Wang Shu

Dezeen Wire: Chinese architect Wang Shu of Amateur Architecture Studio in Hangzhou is the 2012 Pritkzer Prize laureate. The prize organisers have confirmed the news after details were leaked ahead of schedule.

Last year's winner was Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura - read more stories about the Pritzker Prize here.

Here's the full jury citation:

Jury Citation 2012

The architecture of the 2012 Pritzker Prize Laureate Wang Shu, opens new horizons while at the same time resonates with place and memory. His buildings have the unique ability to evoke the past, without making direct references to history. Born in 1963 and educated in China, Wang Shu’s architecture is exemplary in its strong sense of cultural continuity and re-invigorated tradition. In works undertaken by the office he founded with his partner and wife Lu Wenyu, Amateur Architecture Studio, the past is literally given new life as the relationship between past and present is explored. The question of the proper relation of present to past is particularly timely, for the recent process of urbanization in China invites debate as to whether architecture should be anchored in tradition or should look only toward the future. As with 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.

Wang Shu´s buildings have a very rare attribute–a commanding and even, at times, monumental presence, while functioning superbly and creating a calm environment for life and daily activities. The History Museum at Ningbo is one of those unique buildings that while striking in photos, is even more moving when experienced. The museum is an urban icon, a well-tuned repository for history and a setting where the visitor comes first. The richness of the spatial experience, both in the exterior and interior is remarkable. This building embodies strength, pragmatism and emotion.

Wang Shu knows how to embrace the challenges of construction and employ them to his advantage. His approach to building is both critical and experimental. Using recycled materials, he is able to send several messages on the careful use of resources and respect for tradition and context as well as give a frank appraisal of technology and the quality of construction today, particularly in China. Wang Shu’s works that use recycled building materials, such as roof tiles and bricks from dismantled walls, create rich textural and tactile collages. Working in collaboration with construction workers, the outcome sometimes has an element of unpredictability, which in his case, gives the buildings a freshness and spontaneity.

In spite of his age, young for an architect, he has shown his ability to work successfully at various scales. The Xiangshan Campus of China Academy of Arts in Hangzhou is like a small town, providing a setting for learning and living for students, professors and staff. The exterior and interior connections between buildings and private and public spaces provide a rich environment where an emphasis on livability prevails. He is also capable of creating buildings on an intimate scale, such as the small exhibition hall or pavilions inserted into the fabric of the historic center of Hangzhou. As in all great architecture, he does this with naturalness, making it look as if it were an effortless exercise.
He calls his office Amateur Architecture Studio, but the work is that of a virtuoso in full command of the instruments of architecture–form, scale, material, space and light. The 2012 Pritzker Architecture Prize is given to Wang Shu for the exceptional nature and quality of his executed work, and also for his ongoing commitment to pursuing an uncompromising, responsible architecture arising from a sense of specific culture and place.

  • So happy that finally there is a Chinese Pritzker Price!

    • Patricia


  • forca

    Congratulations! 恭喜王澍!

  • ipm


  • horizon

    year after year, steven holl is past up on the pritzker prize despite winning almost every other internation honor and apart from adding more to shaping architectural design globally than several of the last recipients. every year that goes by the same way, seems to diminish the value of this award in my eyes. for one thing, the pool of truly influential architects who have a large and significant enough body of work to be considered can't keep up with frequency of the annual award, and two, it just seems so taintedly against giving holl this award making it seem somehow vindictive and personal and not about awarding the individual architect most deserving of the honor.

    • h.a.



      • vampire


        PP is not 'STARCHITECT PRIZE'….

  • Incomprehensible

    Incomprehensible. The guy has just a few projects and none of them are remrkable.

  • f.m.

    they are all remarkable

  • T.Z

    well, a chinese architecture student here, also a massive fan of Holl & surely every acknowledged his acheivement already, i think he's still one of greatest architects without this award at the moment, no doubt about that. juz like those time before Moura, Zumthor & Seijima were awarded … Obviously it's about politics here and architecture is no exception as we know. Since many so-callled starchitects work in china, it's critical moment here to set a benchmark for those short sighted architects (both chinese and western ones), since not many of them value the local culture and the collaboration with construction workers.

  • T.Z

    p.s. have to say many ppl like me didn't see it coming & find it bit early maybe, at d same time, fun to see so many non-chinese don't know about him at all ~

  • daedalus

    steven holl shaping architectural design globally? give me a break!

    • HTD

      I agree. For all those crying out about the injustice done to SH, have you ever visited some of his latest buildings?? Great conceptual pieces, but as architecture they leave a lot to be desired, such as attention to detail and material.

      I love this years decision.

  • olli

    This is the most perplexing Pritzker Prize ever awarded.

  • Shortsighted T Z

    My experience of working in China is that often clients take your design and then run without paying or disregard your copyright.

    • vampire

      This is true, and anyone who reacts against this trend successfully should be commended.

  • RRR

    Just because this guy is not as famous as most other PP winners, doesn't mean he didn't deserve it. I find it remarkable how people reason on who should have won. How about leaving that to the PP people. If you disagree then set up your own awards. I think Wang's work is beautiful and people like him should built more in China instead of all the western starchitects. Holl's big linked hybrid building in Beijing I think is ugly and perhaps should be the reason he shouldn't have won. I'm delighted that the PP came out surprisingly in this already so predictable world of architecture.

  • vampire

    I agree that Holl's linked hybrid is a good project in terms of construction and programme, but has little cultural sense. Wang Shu's project is modest in scale but sensitive to historical context. I think the PP is not awarded for Buildings, but for Culture.

  • amy

    Big stimulation of Chinese architecture! It gives ppl hope. I visited Ningbo Museum in person, it is truly wonderful to have such architecture in current Chinese climate. Thank you PP Group, it means a lot.

  • Wang Shu's work is amazing. The Pritzker jury lays a guilt trip on all of us.
    Read the article at