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Wang Shu, recipient of the Pritzker Prize 2012

Congratulations to Mr. Wang Shu (and his Amateur Architecture Studio) for receiving the Pritzker Prize 2012 in Architecture. I was at first surprised that Mr. Wang got the prize. First of all because all his built work are located within China; and secondly because his name was still pretty much under the radar even amongst architecture circles.

I first came across Mr. Wang’s work in 2008, at ‘Refabricating City’, Hong Kong & Shenzhen Bi- City Biennale of Urbanism/ Architecture at the Central Police Station Compound. His exhibition was entitled ‘Thinking by Hands: An Experiment on the Reconstruction of Living Places in Collapsing Traditional Cities’. His exhibit showcased models of some of the buildings at the New Academy of Art in Hangzhou, China. I thought his exhibit was one of the highlights of the 2008 Biennale.
Soon after a bunch of friends and I decided to make a trip to Hangzhou and Suzhou (and neighboring regions) and we visited the New Academy of Art in Hangzhou, as well as the Jinhua Architecture Park. Seeing the buildings in person was more impressive than seeing the architecture models at the biennale, for me largely because of the recycled or salvaged bricks and tiles. These recycled bricks and tiles give an organic and weathered quality to the otherwise modernist forms that Wang employs. The juxtaposition of the new forms against the salvaged bricks give Wang’s work a unique character. This design decision is also ecologically sound, as it makes use of discarded materials that would otherwise be destined for landfill.

Wang has done some interesting work in the Hangzhou region. If you are nearby, and if you appreciate contemporary architecture, you should check them out.

Also check out New York Times article: For First Time, Architect in China wins Top Prize

A close-up photo of the recycled bricks on the facade of one of the buildings at the New Art Academy. The recycled bricks and tiles are used on the facades and roofs of some of the buildings on the campus. The brick and tiles are of different shapes, colors and sizes; their arrangement is random, together they provide a rich texture to the buildings facade. I wonder how many tons of these recycled bricks were used?

An impression of the building facade with the recycled bricks.

A close-up view of the salvaged tiles on top of the curved reinforced concrete slab.

The salvaged bricks and tiles on the building's rooftop are hard to be seen by people on the ground level. More apparent if seen from above.

This is a close-up view of the pavilion (Coffee House) Wang Shu created at the Jinhua Architecture Park. It is clad in small tiles in a range of colors. Am not sure if these tiles are recycled or not.

The roof of the pavilion, where the tiles were also used for cladding.

5 comments on “Wang Shu, recipient of the Pritzker Prize 2012

  1. havesomehaveone
    March 2, 2012

    wang truly rethink the design process from the ground up

  2. Edith Terry
    March 8, 2012

    I had never heard of Wang Shu before either, and so far as I know until now his buildings have had very little visibility beyond China. But impressive and beautiful from the photographs. Hardly a state-approved architect. I think one of the things missing in Asia is a critical bibliography of Asian architects — other than Japanese architects of course. I’ve had trouble figuring out who is who among Southeast Asian architects for example, even though some individuals are well known within the professional community. China, like so many places in Asia, seems to associate prestige with foreign names, so when they want to do something special they generally import the architects and the architecture. This applies even to Hong Kong “names” like Gary Chang and Rocco Yim.

  3. worm212
    March 8, 2012

    That’s why I applaud the Pritzker jurors for their 2012 selection. If you look at the laureates from the recent years, there’s hardly any surprises. They all have are done grand or high profile projects and often abroad. Zumthor’s and Mercutt’s work are more modest in scale and regional, but they have established a long cult following amongst architectural circles for their craft of putting buildings together. Then Wang came along and literally swept people off their feet!

    Wang is certainly a rebel in eyes of the state, as he openly criticized the urban development in China soon after winning the prize. And btw no state approved architect would ever receive the Pritzker I don’t think, which is a good thing.

  4. jane
    March 9, 2012

    It inspires me to see such thoughtful use of materials. Ironic how the NYT article merely says the architect “includes recycled architectural materials from the area” yet the Architectural Record explains that he used rubble from the farmer’s homes demolished to build the new structure….!

    another note: I would love to experience these buildings live. why do writers always only write about the outside form of buildings?

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This entry was posted on February 29, 2012 by in China, See.
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