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Japanese architect Yamamoto wins Pritzker Architecture Prize

Updated at 05 Mar 2024 4:10 pm

Japan's Riken Yamamoto has been awarded this year's Pritzker Architecture Prize for his buildings that promote community and gathering. "Yamamoto, architect and social advocate, creates a connection between public and private spheres and inspires harmonious societies despite a diversity of identities, economies, politics, infrastructures and housing systems," the jury in Chicago said on Tuesday, explaining its decision. The award winner's work, particularly in the Asian region, is deeply rooted in the maintenance of community life in which people support each other.

In German-speaking countries, Yamamoto (78) is best known for his building "The Circle" at Zurich Airport, behind whose sloping façade there are stores and a park. Other buildings are mainly located in Japan, China and Korea. Previous Pritzker Prize winners include David Chipperfield from the UK, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Norman Foster and Peter Zumthor. The award is considered the highest in the world of architecture.

Yamamoto's buildings - including libraries, fire stations and universities - are about deconstructing traditional notions of freedom and privacy. "For me, recognizing space means recognizing an entire community," Yamamoto is quoted as saying. The current architectural approach favors privacy over social relationships. However, the freedom of each individual can also be appreciated when living together in architectural space.

Riken Yamamoto was born in Beijing, China, in 1945, but grew up in Yokohama, Japan, after the Second World War. The linking of public and private spaces is a concept that inspired him in his childhood home. He explains his interest in architecture with a profound experience in the Kôfuku-ji temple, a five-storey Buddhist building.

After completing his master's degree in architecture in 1971, he founded his office Riken Yamamoto & Field Shop in 1973. His career is also based on extensive road trips with his mentor Hiroshi Hara, among others, during which he studied the community dynamics of different cultures. He has also traveled through many countries in the Mediterranean region as well as North, Central and South America. Yamamoto has received numerous awards for his work and lives in Yokohama "in community with his neighbors".

©Keystone/SDA

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