David Chipperfield - Royal Gold Medal
by Deborah Saunt
Sir David Chipperfield is the 2011 recipient of the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Chipperfield was nominated for the honor by David Adjaye, RIBA President Ruth Reed, and Deborah Saunt. —Editor
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David Chipperfield occupies a unique position, managing to represent architecture beyond the boundaries of a region, a nation or even the specifics of the European continent. He is a British architect for the 21st century, working globally, with a number of offices overseas, but always grounded in the UK.
His work is internationally celebrated and yet remains timeless, beyond fashion. Magically his work is both contemporary and fresh whilst embodying the persistent power of classicism — but without the insistence on a strict or didactic language.
The places he creates are sensitively formed to respond to context and are essentially urban — always being read as part of a bigger landscape. This is not iconic attention-seeking architecture that focuses on itself; instead, the work always mediates between the individual user and the city.
The materiality his practice has developed over the last three decades pushes beyond "white modernism" to a manifest palette of subtle textures, materials and sensations — from plaster, stone, concrete and timber, through to glass, meshes and perforated flat metals, and often in dialogue with the existing fabric of a neighboring or host building, be it a single new building or the sensitive restoration and re-imagining of an old building.
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