Chipperfield finds honour but no profit in his country
David Chipperfield, who has not been commissioned in the uk for 11 years, won plaudits at home and abroad this week. His Henley Rowing Centre won the Royal Fine Art Commission's building of the year award, and his practice the Heinrich Tessenow Gold Medal, awarded by Hamburg's Alfred Toepfer Foundation.
The medal citation said the 'provocative restraint and reflective sensitiveness' of his designs had paved the way for work in Japan, the usa, Germany, Italy and other countries. But while Chipperfield is working on renovation of the Neues Museum in Berlin and an extension of Venice's San Michele cemetery, he has been cold-shouldered on these shores.
Chipperfield said the Henley building had won prizes from the riba, Civic Trust, and aia - 'Yet we haven't received one commission since I designed it 11 years ago. It is not very encouraging: you do a building that everyone applauds and don't get anything else in the country. Many other architects are in a similar situation, like Alsop & Stormer.
'The problem here is the over-commercial environment that architects have to present themselves in. We are seen as professionals and consultants and not as creators and people with culture. In Berlin I am promoted because I am willing to take a cultural position,' he said.
Some of the biggest names always talked of performance, energy, speed of construction, budgets and time, he said, but 'we must not ever mention the word culture'.
Benson & Forsyth's Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh won the rfac's Scottish award. Specialist awards went to Munkenbeck & Marshall's Roche Court Sculpture Gallery in Salisbury (enterprise), Inscape Architects' Riverstation restaurant in Bristol (jeu d'esprit), and Tim Foster Architects' Tricycle Cinema in London (entertainment).
Other winners were Levitt Bernstein Associates' Ikon Gallery in Birmingham (conservation and conversion) and The Napper Partnership's River Irthing Bridge in Cumbria (bridges). Another award, in memory of British Sky Broadcasting's Popli Khalat-Bari, for a building that contributed to education, went to Hackney Community College, by Perkins Ogden Architects and Hampshire County Architects.
Shortlisted schemes included the British Library by Professor Sir Colin St John Wilson, Lords' Grand Stand by Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners, Number 1 Poultry by James Stirling and Michael Wilford and Partners, Alsop and Stormer's North Greenwich Jubilee Line station and the North Greenwich interchange by Foster and Partners.
Architecture champion Sir Stuart Lipton must put government buildings at the top of his agenda and torpedo design and build, Lord St John of Fawsley said at the awards ceremony. He told the aj: 'Architects must be given their proper position at the top of all these projects, and there must be no compromise.'