Portuguese architect wins acclaimed Pritzker Prize

Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura has picked up this year’s Pritzker Prize, the highest accolade in architecture, a month after a news agency leaked the news. The 58-year old becomes the second Portuguese to win the coveted award after Alvaro Siza in 1992. Last month, a news agency reported the news of de Moura’s win well ahead of the usually secret announcement.

Pritzker Prize jury chairman, Lord Palumbo, said, “During the past three decades, Eduardo Souto de Moura has produced a body of work that is of our time but also carries echoes of architectural traditions.

“His buildings have a unique ability to convey seemingly conflicting characteristics — power and modesty, bravado and subtlety, bold public authority and a sense of intimacy — at the same time.”

As a student, Souto de Moura worked for Alvaro Siza for five years. Since forming his own office in 1980, Souto de Moura has completed well over 60 projects in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.

The projects include single family homes, a cinema, shopping centres, hotels, apartments, offices, art galleries and museums, schools, sports facilities and subways.

His spectacular stadium in Braga, Portugal, was a venue for the European soccer championships when it was completed in 2004. More than 1.5 million cubic metres of granite were blasted from the site and crushed to make concrete for the stadium. Precise explosions of a mountain side created a hundred foot high granite face that terminates one end of the stadium.

The jury described this work as ‘muscular, monumental and very much at home within its powerful landscape.’

Another of Souto de Moura’s projects, the 2007 Burgo Tower in his hometown of Porto, Portugal, is described by the jury as ‘two buildings side by side, one vertical and one horizontal with different scales, in dialogue with each other and the urban landscape’.

The annual Pritzer Prize was founded in 1979 by the late Jay A. Pritzker and his wife Cindy. The laureates receive a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion.