Sir David Chipperfield is 2023 Pritzker Laureate

The fifth British architect to nab Architecture’s ‘Nobel,’ David Chipperfield is feted for a body of work that eschews trends and the lure of the ego for highly-contextual spaces

Words Gabrielle de la Cruz and The Pritzker Architecture Prize
Images and Information Pritzker Architecture Prize and David Chipperfield Architects

The Neues Museum (2009), Berlin, Germany, courtesy of SPK/David Chipperfield Architects, photo by Joerg von Bruchhausen.

“David Chipperfield ‘does his job’, and he does it by balancing relevancy and stature. To operate anchored to the body of knowledge of the discipline or architecture requires both intelligence and modesty; to put such knowledge at the service of a given project requires talent and maturity,” reads the 2023 Pritzker Prize jury citation, with civic architect, urban planner, and activist Sir David Allan Chipperfield announced as this year’s winner. 

Chipperfield joins four other British recipients of one of Architecture’s most prestigious honors, alongside James Stirling (1981), Norman Foster (1999), Zaha Hadid (2004), and Richard Rogers (2007).

Sir David Alan Chipperfield CH, photo courtesy of Tom Welsh

Born December 18, 1953, in London, United Kingdom, Chipperfield’s passion for architecture blossomed as he stayed in his hometown. London is where he studied, trained, and developed his passion for architecture. He graduated from the Architectural Association in London in 1977 and established his practice, David Chipperfield Architects in 1985. His practice now holds offices in London, Berlin, Milan, and Shanghai. Prior to having his own firm, Chipperfield worked for the offices of fellow Pritzker Prize Laureates Foster and Rogers and notable architect Douglas Stephen.

David Chipperfield-Turner Contemporary
Turner Contemporary (2011), Margate, United Kingdom, photo courtesy of Simon Menges

One of Chipperfield’s first projects is a shop for legendary Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake, located on London’s Sloane Street. This structure initially showcased the “rigorous elegance”  and consistency that the architect is known for now, as seen in the way he balanced the design elements of the space. Chipperfield regards designing this shop as a “fundamental, formative part” of his design experience. From then on, he ventured into larger projects such as the River and Rowing Museum in United Kingdom (1997), Museo Jumex in Mexico City (2013), and Hoxton Press in London (2018), all of which demonstrated his “commitment to an architecture of understated but transformative civic presence.”

Issey Miyake on London’s Sloane Street (1985). Image courtesy of David Chipperfield’s Instagram. “Designing his shop on Sloane Street in 1985 marked the beginning of my career…It was a fundamental, formative part of my design experience,” the architect shared in remembering Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake.

On top of buildings and spaces, Chipperfield has also designed furniture, lighting, and even tableware, where he also displayed “clear compositions and refined detailing.” In 2011, he received the RIBA Gold Medal for lifetime achievement and the EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture–Mies van der Rohe Award.

With a portfolio that spans almost four decades, the work of Chipperfield has shown how architecture can “address the existential challenges of climate change and societal inequality.” His win is proof that architecture, as a craft, must always “inspire the next generation to embrace this responsibility with vision and courage.” •

Amorepacific Headquarters (2017), Seoul, South Korea, photo courtesy of Noshe
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