Congratulations Wang Shu! | Pritzker Prize

Wang Shu | Amateur Architecture Studio

From Local Hero to Global Hero in three years time! MovingCities wishes to congratulate Wang Shu 王澍 & Lu Wenyu 陆文宇 [amateur architecture studio 业余建筑工作室] for receiving the 2012 Pritzker Architecture Prize. He is a great architect and source of inspiration. This is a great moment for contemporary Chinese architecture. As an homage, we collected a series of encounters we had with him and his work during the past few years.

From the 2012 Pritzker Architecture Jury Citation:

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.

School of Architecture, China Academy of Art | Hangzhou, december 2011

There is more background on the works, life and vision of Wang Shu 王澍 on the Pritzker Prize website. If you download the “2012 Pritzker Architecture Prize Media Kit” (pdf alert!), you’ll find and read an interesting recap of much of the major topics surrounding his work and architectures. There is a substantial set of stories which are directly linked and related to our 2009 MARK Magazine in-depth interview with Wang Shu 王澍  [Dean – School of Architecture China Academy of Art Hangzhou] :

In the case of this museum, one night I couldn’t sleep and suddenly it emerged. To me, every design is about both poetic thinking and mathematics. I sat on the bed, drew it in my mind and calculated the size of the building. When that was done, I took a small piece of paper and a pencil. I drew everything directly: numbers, structure, size, space, stairs, where to locate the entrance, functions and so on. Then I drank tea.

There are three very difficult stages during the building process. The first is how to convince the government. The second deals with designing designing working details and with other construction issues. Many architects fail in this stage. They may have a good idea, but more often than not it’s poorly executed. The third stage is the hardest of all. When a building is finished, the Chinese rarely think of it as a work of art. They treat is as a container with many functions that they can change randomly and at will. This is very difficult for me. I can control the first and second stages, but I have no influence on the third. In the Contemporary Art Museum in Ningbo, for example, we designed two large floors.

I believe in starting with a broad vision and condensing it to fit the local situation.

Below, a couple of the encounters with Wang Shu 王澍, in various locations, we had during the past few years. Click on any of them to proceed to previous posts.

Pictures by

For more background and info see video at 0300tv [2008] & TheHarvardGSD [2011]; or read at CAA (CN) / spatialagency / New York Times / CBC News / Architectural Record /ArchDaily / Wall Street Journal / BBC (CN) /

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