Pritzker Architecture

The Pritzker Architecture Prize has announced Japanese architect and social advocate, Riken Yamamoto of Yokohama in Japan, as the 2024 laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. The award is regarded internationally as architecture’s highest honour. 

Community focussed 

Yamamoto establishes kinship between public and private realms, inspiring harmonious societies despite a diversity of identities, economies, politics, infrastructures and housing systems. Deeply embedded in upholding community life, he asserts that the value of privacy has become an urban sensibility, when in fact, members of a community should sustain one another. 

He defines community as a “sense of sharing one space”, deconstructing traditional notions of freedom and privacy while rejecting longstanding conditions that have reduced housing into a commodity without relation to neighbours. Instead, he bridges cultures, histories and multi-generational citizens with sensitivity, by adapting international influence and modernist architecture to the needs of the future, allowing life to thrive. 

Pritzker Architecture

Riken Yamamoto. Photo courtesy of Tom Welsh

“For me, to recognise space is to recognise an entire community,” Yamamoto expresses. “The current architectural approach emphasises privacy, negating the necessity of societal relationships. However, we can still honour the freedom of each individual while living together in an architectural space as a republic, fostering harmony across cultures and phases of life.” 

2024 jury citation 

The 2024 jury citation states, in part, that he was selected “for creating awareness in the community in what is the responsibility of the social demand, for questioning the discipline of architecture to calibrate each individual architectural response, and above all, for reminding us that in architecture, as in democracy, spaces must be created by the resolve of the people.” 

Public and private 

By reconsidering boundary as a space, he activates the threshold between public and private lives, achieving social value with every project, as each abounds with places for engagement and chance encounters. Small- and large-scale built works alike demonstrate masterly qualities of the spaces themselves, providing focus on the life that each one frames. 

Pritzker Architecture

Yamamoto reimagines boundaries as spaces themselves and breathes life into the transitional zone between public and private spheres, Shinonome Canal Court CODAN. Photo courtesy of Tomio Ohashi

Transparency is utilised so that those from within may experience the environment that lies beyond, while those passing by may feel a sense of belonging. He offers a consistent continuity of the landscape, designing in discourse to the pre-existing natural and built environments to contextualise the experience of each building. 

Influences 

Yamamoto has evolved influences from traditional Japanese machiya and Greek oikos housing that existed in relationship to cities, where connectivity and commerce were essential for the vitality of every family. He designed his own home, GAZEBO (Yokohama, Japan, 1986) to invoke interaction with neighbours from terraces and rooftops. 

“Yamamoto develops a new architectural language that doesn’t merely create spaces for families to live, but creates communities for families to live together,” says Tom Pritzker, chairperson of the Hyatt Foundation, which sponsors the award. “His works are always connected to society, cultivating a generosity in spirit and honouring the human moment.” 

Portfolio 

With a career spanning five decades, Yamamoto’s projects, ranging from private residences to public housing, elementary schools to university buildings, institutions to civic spaces and city planning, are located throughout Japan, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Korea and Switzerland.  

Yamamoto is the 53rd laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize and the ninth to hail from Japan. He was born in Beijing, the People’s Republic of China, and resides in Yokohama, Japan. He will be honoured in Chicago, Illinois, United States of America, in May 2024. The 2024 Laureate Lecture will be held at SR Crown Hall, Illinois Institute of Technology, in partnership with the Chicago Architecture Centre, on 16 May 2024, and is open to the public in person and online. 

“One of the things we need most in the future of cities is to create conditions through architecture that multiply the opportunities for people to come together and interact. By carefully blurring the boundary between public and private, Yamamoto contributes positively beyond the brief to enable communities. He is a reassuring architect who brings dignity to everyday life. Normality becomes extraordinary. Calmness leads to splendour.” – Alejandro Aravena, jury chairperson and 2016 Pritzker Prize laureate. 

 

Full acknowledgement and thanks go to:

https://www.pritzkerprize.com/ for the information in this article. 

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