Works by the First Chinese Pritzker Laureate Wang Shu

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Wang Shu, Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate, 2012

Photograph of 48-year-old Wang Shu, Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate, 2012
Photograph of 48-year-old Wang Shu, Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate, 2012. Photo © Zhu Chenzhou / Amateur Architecture Studio at pritzkerprize.com

Wang Shu (born November 4, 1963 in Urumqi, Xinjiang Province, The People's Republic of China) sees himself first as a scholar, then a craftsman, and, lastly, as an architect. It's surprising, then, that at the young age of 48 Wang Shu was chosen as the 2012 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate. Here are pictures of some of his architecture projects.

The Pritzker jury chose the first Chinese architect 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." Shu has voiced his dismay that the award was not shared with his wife and partner, architect Lu Wenyu.

Education and Training:

  • B.S., Nanjing Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture, P. R. China, 1985
  • M.S., Nanjing Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture, P. R. China, 1988
  • Ph.D., Tongji University School of Architecture, 1995-2000
  • 1990–1998, training in urbanization, craftsmanship, and restoration. Shu worked as an entry-level construction worker, thoroughly learning the building trade from local craftsmen. Renovating old buildings strengthened Shu's respect for time, history, and culture. The government's demolition of many urban areas—and his building projects during this period—has greatly influenced his architectural philosophy and vision.

The Amateur Spirit:

In 1997, Shu founded Amateur Architecture Studio with his architect wife, Lu Wenyu. "It should not be even referred to as an architect's office," Shu has said, "because design is an amateur activity and life is more important than design. Our work is constantly refreshed by various spontaneous things that occur. And, most important, we encourage independence and individualism to guarantee the experimental work of the studio."

Wang Shu Design Process:

As a boy, Wang Shu became interested in drawing, painting, and calligraphy. In studying architecture, he combined that artistic love with his parents' wish for him to study engineering and science. His approach to architectural design is similar to that of a painter—that is, before he even picks up a pencil, sketch ideas must appear in his mind. After studying all aspects of the design problem—how the project will integrate with the environment—the design materializes in his mind. Shu's design process begins with thinking before drawing. The design evolves as construction considerations are discussed.

What Others Say:

"Wang Shu's work stands out for its combination of sculptural power and contextual sensitivity. His transformative use of ancient materials and motifs is highly original and stimulating."Zaha Hadid, 2004 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate
"To look at the state of the profession, it would seem that anything is possible, and more often than not, we get anything! Form for its own sake has become a superficial discipline. Wang Shu and Lu Wenyu, however, have avoided the sensational and the novel. In spite of what is still a short period in practice, they have delivered a modern, rational, poetic and mature body of varying scaled public work. Their work is already a modern cultural asset to the rich history or Chinese architecture and culture."Glenn Murcutt, 2002 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate

Related Books:

  • Imagining the House by Wang Shu, Lars Muller Publishers, 2012
    Buy on Amazon
  • Illegal Architecture by Wang Shu and Hsieh Ying-Chun, Garden City, 2012
    Buy on Amazon

Sources for this Article:

02
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Library of Wenzheng College, 1999-2000, Suzhou, China

Library of Wenzheng College, 1999-2000, Suzhou, China, by 2012 Pritzker winner Wang Shu
Library of Wenzheng College, 1999-2000, Suzhou, China, by 2012 Pritzker winner Wang Shu. Photo © Lu Wenyu / Amateur Architecture Studio courtesy pritzkerprize.com

Citation from the Pritzker Prize Jury

"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."

Source: From paragraph 1 of the Pritzker Prize Jury Citation

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Ningbo Contemporary Art Museum, 2001-2005, Ningbo, China

Ningbo Contemporary Art Museum, 2001-2005, Ningbo, China, by 2012 Pritzker winner Wang Shu
Ningbo Contemporary Art Museum, 2001-2005, Ningbo, China, by 2012 Pritzker winner Wang Shu. Photo © Lv Hengzhong / Amateur Architecture Studio courtesy pritzkerprize.com

Citation from the Pritzker Prize Jury

"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."

Source: From paragraph 1 of the Pritzker Prize Jury Citation

 

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Vertical Courtyard Apartments, 2002-2007, Hangzhou, China

Vertical Courtyard Apartments, 2002-2007, Hangzhou, China, by 2012 Pritzker winner Wang Shu
Vertical Courtyard Apartments, 2002-2007, Hangzhou, China, by 2012 Pritzker winner Wang Shu. Photo © Lu Wenyu / Amateur Architecture Studio courtesy pritzkerprize.com

Citation from the Pritzker Prize Jury

"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."

Source: From paragraph 5 of the Pritzker Prize Jury Citation

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Five Scattered Houses, 2003-2006, Ningbo, China

Photograph of house near water, Ningbo, China, by 2012 Pritzker winner Wang Shu
Five Scattered Houses, 2003-2006, Ningbo, China, by 2012 Pritzker winner Wang Shu. Photo © Lang Shuilong / Amateur Architecture Studio courtesy pritzkerprize.com

Citation from the Pritzker Prize Jury

"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."

Source: From paragraph 5 of the Pritzker Prize Jury Citation

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Ceramic House, 2006, Jinhua, China

Ceramic House, Jinhua, China, by 2012 Pritzker winner Wang Shu
Ceramic House, 2003-2006, Jinhua, China, by 2012 Pritzker winner Wang Shu. Photo © Lv Hengzhong / Amateur Architecture Studio courtesy pritzkerprize.com

About the Ceramic House

Wang Shu was inspired by the functioning of the two-sided ink stone from ancient China—the plain side stores the ink and the sloping side drips the ink. "I asked myself what I would see standing on the surface of the ink stone and what from the bottom," says Shu.

At about 1400 square feet (130 square meters), Shu's cafe-house is described as a container shaped like an ink stone. One side is designed to take advantage of the river and rains of Jinhua, while the other side is "anchored on the earth bank."

Citation from the Pritzker Prize Jury

"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."

Sources: From paragraph 3 of the Pritzker Prize Jury Citation; Ceramic House, on Chinese-Architects.com [accessed February 5, 2013].

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Ningbo History Museum, 2003-2008, Ningbo, China

Ningbo History Museum, 2003-2008, Ningbo, China, by 2012 Pritzker winner Wang Shu
Ningbo History Museum, 2003-2008, Ningbo, China, by 2012 Pritzker winner Wang Shu. Photo by © Hengzhong / Amateur Architecture Studio courtesy pritzkerprize.com

Citation from the Pritzker Prize Jury

"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 all in one."

Source: Paragraph 2 from the Pritzker Prize Jury Citation

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Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, 2004-2007, Hangzhou, China

Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, 2004-2007, Hangzhou, China, by 2012 Pritzker winner Wang Shu
Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, 2004-2007, Hangzhou, China, by 2012 Pritzker winner Wang Shu. Photo © Lv Hengzhong / Amateur Architecture Studio courtesy pritzkerprize.com

Citation from the Pritzker Prize Jury

"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."

Source: Paragraph 4 of the Pritzker Prize Jury Citation

09
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Tiled Garden, 2010, 10th Venice Biennale of Architecture, Venice, Italy

Tiled Garden, 2010, 10th Venice Biennale of Architecture, Venice, Italy, by Wang Shu
Tiled Garden, 2010, 10th Venice Biennale of Architecture, Venice, Italy, by 2012 Pritzker winner Wang Shu. Photo © Lu Wenyu / Amateur Architecture Studio courtesy pritzkerprize.com

Citation from the Pritzker Prize Jury

"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."

Source: From paragraph 3 of the Pritzker Prize Jury Citation

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Ningbo Tengtou Pavilion, Shanghai Expo, 2010, Shanghai, China

Ningbo Tengtou Pavilion, Shanghai Expo, 2010, Shanghai, China, by 2012 Pritzker winner Wang Shu
Ningbo Tengtou Pavilion, Shanghai Expo, 2010, Shanghai, China, by 2012 Pritzker winner Wang Shu. Photo © Lu Wenyu / Amateur Architecture Studio courtesy pritzkerprize.com

Citation from the Pritzker Prize Jury

"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 a master's naturalness, making it look as if it were an effortless exercise."

Source: From paragraph 4 of the Pritzker Prize Jury Citation

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Decay of a Dome Exhibit (Installation), 2010, Venice, Italy

Photograph of dome made of inter-crossed boards
Decay of a Dome Exhibit (Installation in Venice), 2010, Venice, Italy, by 2012 Pritzker winner Wang Shu. Photo © Lu Wenyu / Amateur Architecture Studio courtesy pritzkerprize.com

Wang Shu has exhibited widely around the world In 2010 Decay of a Dome was presented at the 12th International Architecture Exhibition, Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy.

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Craven, Jackie. "Works by the First Chinese Pritzker Laureate Wang Shu." ThoughtCo, Dec. 22, 2016, thoughtco.com/wang-shu-portfolio-177467. Craven, Jackie. (2016, December 22). Works by the First Chinese Pritzker Laureate Wang Shu. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/wang-shu-portfolio-177467 Craven, Jackie. "Works by the First Chinese Pritzker Laureate Wang Shu." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/wang-shu-portfolio-177467 (accessed November 22, 2017).