Elegance and restraint.
In Venice and Wakefield.
This week David Chipperfield was selected as the 2023 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Described as “architecture’s highest international accolade” .
His buildings are “characterised by elegance, restraint, a sense of permanence and refined detailing.”
Elegance and restraint. Two words which succinctly define his work.
Some architecture inspires awe. The design, the materials and the space lift the spirits. Like the finest art, I want to revisit beautiful buildings again and again.
I have only seen two David Chipperfield buildings and both inspire that sense of wonder. I want to see them all.
San Michele Cemetery, Venice
I visited San Michele Cemetery in 2018.David Chipperfield Architects began work here in 2004. The second phase was completed not long before my visit in 2017, which may explain the emptiness of some of its courtyards.
It is a refined, becalmed space with, unsurprisingly, an air of mortality.
Hepworth Gallery, Yorkshire
I have visited the Hepworth Gallery a few times. Sometimes just to experience the building. Sometimes to see an excellent exhibition such as Bill Brandt / Henry Moore in 2020.
My most recent visit was last November:
Like San Michele Cemetery, the elegance of its materials and the restraint of both the exterior and interior are, to me, a thing of beauty.
David Chipperfield is perhaps better known abroad than here in the UK. The then German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, introduced him to British Prime Minster, David Cameron, in 2013 as “one of our most famous German architects”. Despite him being born in London.
If I had followed my grandfather, father and brother into architecture these are the types of buildings I would wish to design.
There are four further buildings in the UK I want to find time to visit sooner rather than later.
The Royal Academy in London
River and Rowing Museum in Henley
Turner Contemporary in Margate
Hoxton Press in London
If you are near one of his masterpieces, I heartily recommend a visit. I hope you are moved in the same way as I am.
Sam Michele became a cemetery island in 1807 when it was decreed that burial on the main Venetian islands was unsanitary.