Architecture serving the common good: David Chipperfield
"Serving the common good" is the ultimate goal of the projects designed by architect David Chipperfield, whether they be civil, cultural, or residential buildings or urban masterplans. The jury of the Pritzker Architecture Prize focused on this aspect in their motivation for awarding the prestigious award to the British architect in 2023. The prize established in 1979 by the Pritzker family of Chicago and awarded annually by the Hyatt Foundation is considered the world’s most prestigious award for architecture, comparable to the Nobel Prize in other disciplines.
In a career spanning more than four decades, David Chipperfield has worked in Europe, North America and Asia, creating architecture that steers clear of trends and fashions, responding to the specific features of each individual project and setting. As noted by Jury Chair and 2016 Pritzker Prize Laureate Alejandro Aravena, David Chipperfield’s projects, both those requiring a gesture that is strong and monumental and those which almost disappear into their surroundings, are always designed and built with great precision and care, ready to withstand the test of time, going beyond fashions and trends to become "permanent", capable of lasting both physically and culturally.
Examples of his extraordinary projects include a number of recent works in particularly historic settings. In these renovation projects, the architect takes into account the social and environmental well-being that will result as he designs or redesigns the functions and accessibility of buildings. The project often underlines the original structures rather than replacing them, establishing a dialogue with time and place.
In his project for the James-Simon-Galerie in Berlin, for example, the building with its majestic colonnades, staircase and big terrace is designed specifically to become a place with a character of its own, the central entrance to Museum Island, providing essential functions for the entire museum system.
In his restoration of the 16th-century Procuratie Vecchie complex in Venice (2022), David Chipperfield and his studio preferred a flexible approach implementing a series of small changes rather than a single architectural gesture. Interpreting the heritage of the place, the architects used local workers and ancient techniques to reclaim the frescoes, floors and plaster, restoring the integrity of the structures while mediating between the new requirements and the uniqueness of one of the most representative places in the city of Venice.
In Paris, the former Préfecture de Paris was transformed into the new "Morland Mixité Capitale". Restoration and expansion of the complex revitalised the entire district. In a reversal of the current trend, the architects transformed a place that appeared closed and inaccessible, with no urban vitality of any kind inside it, into an open, vital campus with a vast and highly diversified range of residential and service offerings, as well as providing passers-by with new urban perspectives in a new visual and physical passageway to the Seine.
Images courtesy of architect and The Hyatt Foundation - Pritzker Architecture Prize
Captions and Credits
01, 03 James-Simon-Galerie, photo courtesy of Ute Zscharnt for David Chipperfield Architects
02 Procuratie Vecchie, photo courtesy of Richard Davies
04-05 James-Simon-Galerie, photo courtesy of Simon Menges
06 Sir David Alan Chipperfield, photo courtesy of Tom Welsh
07-09 Procuratie Vecchie, photo courtesy of Alessandra Chemollo
10 Procuratie Vecchie, photo courtesy of Alberto Parise
11-12 Morland Mixité Capitale, photo courtesy of Simon Menges