Álvaro Siza Vieira has been selected as laureate of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of this year’s International Architecture Exhibition in Venice, Italy. The board of la Biennale di Venezia, currently chaired by Paolo Baratta, under Director David Chipperfield, announced the decision this week, which also happens to be Siza's birthday week. The Golden Lion will be officially presented during the opening and award ceremony on August 29, 2012 at the Giardini of la Biennale.
"It is difficult to think of a contemporary architect who has maintained such a consistent presence within the profession as Álvaro Siza. That this presence is maintained by an architect that lives and works at the extreme Atlantic margin of Europe only serves to emphasise his authority and his status.
"Since the early appreciation of the Boa Nova restaurant and the swimming pools at Leca de Palmeira and a reputation confirmed by the early houses, Siza has maintained a unique position in the architectural galaxy. This position is full of paradox. Siza has upheld a consistent production of works at the highest level, yet without the slightest hint of the overt professionalism and promotion that has become part of the contemporary architect’s machinery. Apparently running in the opposite direction to the rest of the profession he always seems to be out in front, seemingly untainted and undaunted by the practical and intellectual challenges he sets himself.
"Secured by his isolated location, he exudes worldly wisdom. Experimenting with forms of extreme geometry he manages to produce buildings of great rigor. Developing an architectural language that is uniquely his, he seems to speak to all of us. While his work exudes the security of judgment, it is clearly intensified through cautious reflection. While we are dazzled by the lightness of his buildings, we feel the seriousness of their substance.
"Those of us fortunate enough to have heard him speak about architecture, using words as sparingly and as precise as the fine lines of his drawings, know that these works are not the product of a conventional talent but of a mind sophisticatedly exercised by the confidence of knowledge and the wisdom of doubt.” (David Chipperfield)