The 2012 Alvar Aalto Medal was awarded to Portuguese architect Paulo David last night at the World Design Capital Gala in Lahti, Finland. In the view of the jury, David’s architecture forms a convincing synthesis of contemporary and traditional architecture.
David creates architecture that respects local conditions on his home island of Madeira. According to the jury, David’s timeless architecture succeeds in forming a new historical layer of Madeira’s centuries-old landscape and housing stock. The buildings designed by David can be considered both landscape and architecture.
In the words of the jury, “David’s work is locally rooted, yet at the same time universal. His is a timely reminder that architecture can be quiet, serene, lyrical, powerful and well removed from spectacle. His work continues the search for an appropriate, relevant and authentic architecture that fuses with the landscape. The work respects and responds to ‘history, time, place, culture and technology’ – his is architecture of response rather than of imposition.”
Nature on the remote volcanic island of Madeira is part of David’s architecture. The roofs of his buildings may form part of the landscape. Through carefully-designed openings, natural light and other weather conditions become part of each structure’s interior. The surrounding vegetation, too, becomes part of the building.
The office of Paulo David Arquitectos has been based in Madeira since 2003.
The Alvar Aalto Medal is awarded to an architect or architectural office in recognition of a significant contribution to creative architecture. The medal has traditionally been presented on or around Alvar Aalto’s birthday (February 3).
The prize is awarded by the Alvar Aalto Medal Committee, which represents the Alvar Aalto Foundation, the Finnish Association of Architects SAFA, the Foundation for the Museum of Finnish Architecture, the Finnish Architectural Society and the City of Helsinki. The Medal Committee appoints a jury of experts, who select the recipient of the honor.
The 2012 Alvar Aalto Medal jury included the architects Glenn Murcutt (chair), Simo Paavilainen, Jens Arnfred, Roy Mänttäri and Luis M. Mansilla.
The Alvar Aalto Medal was first awarded to Aalto himself in 1967. This year’s medal is the 11th awarded so far. The bronze medal was designed by Aalto. Its relief design is based on the shape of an amphitheatre, a frequently-recurring theme in Aalto’s architecture.
Recipients of the Alvar Aalto Medal:
1967 Alvar Aalto
1973 Hakon Ahlberg (Sweden)
1978 James Stirling (UK)
1982 Jørn Utzon (Denmark)
1985 Tadao Ando (Japan)
1988 Alvaro Siza (Portugal)
1992 Glenn Murcutt (Australia)
1998 Steven Holl (USA)
2003 Rogelio Salmona (Colombia)
2009 Tegnestuen Vandkunsten (Denmark)
2012 Paulo David (Portugal)
Paulo David will speak tonight at the Day of Architecture and Design seminar in Helsinki and tomorrow, Saturday, February 4, at the opening of an exhibition about the Alvar Aalto Medal at the Museum of Finnish Architecture.
All photos courtesy of the Alvar Aalto Museum.