Herzog & de Meuron Win Jencks Prize

John Hill
19. August 2015
Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced that Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron are the winners of the 2015 RIBA Jencks Award.

The award is given annually to "an individual (or practice) that has recently made a major contribution internationally to both the theory and practice of architecture." The award was judged this year by landscape designer, architectural theorist and writer Charles Jencks, Stephen Hodder (RIBA President and Chairman of Hodder and Partners), Julia Peyton-Jones (Director of the Serpentine Galleries), Brett Steele (Director of the Architectural Association School of Architecture), and was chaired by David Gloster (RIBA Director of Education).

Messe Basel (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)

RIBA President Hodder said in a statement, "The contribution to our profession from Jacques and Pierre is constantly profound. The innovative ways in which they explore and reinterpret is evident in their numerous projects, from the 2003 Stirling Prize winner Laban Centre in London to the multi-layered intersection of architecture, archaeology and art that was the 2012 Serpentine Pavilion. ... For the past four decades, Herzog & de Meuron’s work has revealed a constant ability to innovate and apply unique interpretations of architectural theory into practice ..."

VitraHaus (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)

Echoing these sentiments, the award's namesake, Charles Jencks, said, "Herzog & de Meuron have the widest approach to architecture varying their style for each job. In this sense they epitomise the global search for an architecture of pluralism, one flexible enough for very different cultures. ... The high quality of the work is as notable as the wit; the amount of production as much as its personality. ... Herzog & de Meuron deserve a lifetime award as a local Basel office and a global practice. They seem to have finally squared the circle of large-scale architectural production."

Schaulager Museum (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)

Upon being named the recipients of the 2015 RIBA Jencks Award, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron said, "We feel especially happy about that prize since it honors theory as well as practice. Despite the many texts and books we have published, we still have doubts about the longevity of texts written by architects. The title of a few books may be remembered over time – the relevance of their content, though, ages faster than expected... We therefore always did our best not to separate theory from the built work. Buildings don't follow theory but the best buildings always allow for theoretical interpretations of all kinds."

Previous RIBA Jencks winners include Peter Eisenman, Zaha Hadid, Steven Holl, and most recently Benedetta Tagliabue and Rem Koolhaas.

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