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February 27, 2012

Wang Shu of Amateur Architecture Studio became the first Chinese architect to win the Pritzker Prize for Architecture today. Unlike the majority of previous Pritzker winners, whose names often come attached to splashy international museums, monuments, and luxury hotels, Wang Shu is far less known. "The question of the proper relation of present to past is particularly timely," wrote the jury in its citation, "for the recent process of urbanization in China invites debate as to whether architecture should be anchored in tradition or should look only toward the future. As with any great architecture, Wang Shu´s work is able to transcend that debate, producing an architecture that is timeless, deeply rooted in its context and yet universal."

Wang Shu runs Amateur Architecture Studio in Hangzhou, China, with his wife, the architect Lu Wenyu, and counts the fantastic Ningbo History Museum amongst his most distinctive works. Made largely of salvaged stones and terra cotta tiles, the boxy castle of a building is constructed of the detritus of other structure. The choice of Wang Shu may forecast a greater embrace of Asian architects by the Pritzker jury, which now includes former winner Zaha Hadid and U.S. Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer, considering that the Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa won in 2010. IM Pei, who was born in China, won the prize in 1983, though he has done much of his best work in America and became a U.S. citizen in 1954.

Wang Shu of Amateur Architecture Studio is the first Chinese citizen to win the Pritzker Prize.
Wang Shu of Amateur Architecture Studio is the first Chinese citizen to win the Pritzker Prize.
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Marrying the rustic feel of stacked stone with some clever engineering, Amateur Architecture Studio's Ningbo Tentou Pavilion from the Shanghai Expo in 2010 cuts a striking figure. Photo by Fu Xing.
Marrying the rustic feel of stacked stone with some clever engineering, Amateur Architecture Studio's Ningbo Tentou Pavilion from the Shanghai Expo in 2010 cuts a striking figure. Photo by Fu Xing.
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Another facade of the Ningbo Tengtou Pavilion shows another geometric cutout above a small forest of bamboo. Photo by Lu Wenyu courtesy of Amateur Architecture Studio.
Another facade of the Ningbo Tengtou Pavilion shows another geometric cutout above a small forest of bamboo. Photo by Lu Wenyu courtesy of Amateur Architecture Studio.
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Here's one part of the complex of buildings Wang Shu designed for the Xiangshan Campus of the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, China. Photos by Lv Hengzhong courtesy of Amateur Architecture Studio.
Here's one part of the complex of buildings Wang Shu designed for the Xiangshan Campus of the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, China. Photos by Lv Hengzhong courtesy of Amateur Architecture Studio.
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I love the undulating fenestration and slow swoop of the walkways on the Xiangshan Campus at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou from 2007. Photo by Lv Hengzhou courtesy of Amateur Architecture Studio.
I love the undulating fenestration and slow swoop of the walkways on the Xiangshan Campus at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou from 2007. Photo by Lv Hengzhou courtesy of Amateur Architecture Studio.
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Like some kind of abstracted stone fort, the Ningbo History Museum in Ningbo, China, seems to have come from both the future and the deep past. Amateur Architecture Studio worked on the project from 2003-2008. Photos by Lv Hengzhong courtesy of Amateur Ar
Like some kind of abstracted stone fort, the Ningbo History Museum in Ningbo, China, seems to have come from both the future and the deep past. Amateur Architecture Studio worked on the project from 2003-2008. Photos by Lv Hengzhong courtesy of Amateur Architecture Studio.
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Here's a closer look at the stonework and the window placement on the Ningbo History Museum. Photos by Lv Hengzhong courtesy of Amateur Architecture Studio.
Here's a closer look at the stonework and the window placement on the Ningbo History Museum. Photos by Lv Hengzhong courtesy of Amateur Architecture Studio.
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The Vertical Courtyard Apartments were completed in 2007 in Hangzhou, China. Photo by Ly Wenyu courtesy of Amateur Architecture Studio.
The Vertical Courtyard Apartments were completed in 2007 in Hangzhou, China. Photo by Ly Wenyu courtesy of Amateur Architecture Studio.
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The Ningbo Contemporary Art Museum in Ningbo, China, is from 2005. Photos by Lv Hengzhong courtesy of Amateur Architecture Studio.
The Ningbo Contemporary Art Museum in Ningbo, China, is from 2005. Photos by Lv Hengzhong courtesy of Amateur Architecture Studio.
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Here's a shot of the interior walkway of the Ningbo Contemporary Art Museum. Photo by Lv Hengzhou courtesy of Amateur Architecture Studio.
Here's a shot of the interior walkway of the Ningbo Contemporary Art Museum. Photo by Lv Hengzhou courtesy of Amateur Architecture Studio.
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This photo shows a test run of the installation Decay of the Dome that Amateur Architecture Studio mounted at the 12th Annual Architecture Exhibition in Venice, Italy, in 2012. Photo by Lu Wenyu courtesy of Amateur Architecture Studio.
This photo shows a test run of the installation Decay of the Dome that Amateur Architecture Studio mounted at the 12th Annual Architecture Exhibition in Venice, Italy, in 2012. Photo by Lu Wenyu courtesy of Amateur Architecture Studio.
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The Ceramic house in Jinhua, China was built from 2003-2006. Photo by Lv Hengzhong courtesy of Amateur Architecture Studio.<br /><br /><p><em><strong>Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our </strong></em><a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dwell/id41
The Ceramic house in Jinhua, China was built from 2003-2006. Photo by Lv Hengzhong courtesy of Amateur Architecture Studio.

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Wang Shu of Amateur Architecture Studio is the first Chinese citizen to win the Pritzker Prize.
Wang Shu of Amateur Architecture Studio is the first Chinese citizen to win the Pritzker Prize.

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