There’s been plenty of excitement the last day or so over the news of this year’s Pritzker Prize winner, Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha. Da Rocha’s work is significant for his poetic use of an utterly simple material — concrete. In 60 years of practice, the architect has created high-rises, stadiums, houses, museums, and even a chapel from concrete.
Da Rocha’s choice to work in concrete was a practical one; Brazil was not a wealthy nation and it lacked the highly trained workers required to tackle other building methods. His creative use of this humble material became a major influence helping define “Brazilian Brutalism” as an architectural style for the growing nation.
In writing of their decision Pritzker jury member praised Da Rocha for the way his buildings transcend the limits of construction to achieve an architecture of social engagement. Indeed, his working method has been marked by a humanistic attitude toward design. Architecture is not about style, he says, “Architecture is a human endeavor inspired by the nature all around us. We must transform nature; fuse science, art and technology into a sublime statement of human dignity.”
The Pritzker Architecture Prize is awarded annually by the Hyatt Foundation to honor a living architect. Created in 1979 the award is considered the world’s premier architecture prize and often referred to as “the Nobel Prize of Architecture”.
A full photobook of Da Rocha’s work is downloadable as PDF from the Pritzker website, here.