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Paulo Mendes da Rocha wins prestigious Praemium Imperiale architecture prize

With a strong understanding of engineering, these projects highlight the innate appeal of simple materials such as concrete and steel and are structured to utilise space to maximum effect
– Praemium Imperiale jury

Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha has been awarded the prestigious Praemium Imperiale global prize for architecture.

The accolade – among the most valuable in the profession with prize money worth upwards of US$132,000 (€117,000, £100,000) – has been awarded annually by the Japan Art Association since 1989. Winners are also announced in the categories of painting, sculpture, music and theatre/film – areas of achievement chosen as they are not covered by the Nobel Prize.

Da Rocha is best known for his brutalist designs in his homeland. His landmark structures in the country include the Serra Dourada football stadium in Goiania and the Clube Atlético Paulistano gymnasium and the Brazilian Sculpture Museum in Sao Paolo.

In a citation, the Praemium Imperiale jury said: “With a strong understanding of engineering, these projects highlight the innate appeal of simple materials such as concrete and steel and are structured to utilise space to maximum effect.

“At the heart of da Rocha’s architecture is the pursuit of an ‘ideal harmony between the internal and the external.’ While comprehensively taking into account locality, history and landscape, he notes that ‘an architect doesn’t design for himself. He designs for society. So it’s society that is in charge.’”

Over the years, da Rocha has taught at the University of São Paulo and served as president of the Brazilian Institute of Architects. Earlier this year he was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale.

Previous winners of the Praemium Imperiale architecture prize include David Chipperfield, Toyo Ito, Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster, Peter Zumthor and Jean Nouvel. Last year the award was presented to French architect Dominique Perrault.

Paulo Mendes da Rocha  Praemium Imperiale  architecture prize  design  Japan Art Association 
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Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha has been awarded the prestigious Praemium Imperiale global prize for architecture. The accolade – among the most valuable in the profession with prize money worth upwards of US$132,000 (€117,000, £100,000) – has been awarded annually by the Japan Art Association since 1989. Winners are also announced in the categories of painting, sculpture, music and theatre/film – areas of achievement chosen as they are not
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