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Niemeyer scoops Praemium Imperiale prize

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Oscar Niemeyer, the designer behind the 2003 Serpentine Gallery in London's Hyde Park, has been awarded one of the most prestigious prizes in world architecture; the Praemium Imperiale.

The Brazilian will collect the 'Nobel of the Arts' at a ceremony in Tokyo in October, along with a cheque for 15 million yen (£75,000).

He joins a litany of Praemium Imperiale laureates that includes British architects Norman Foster, James Stirling and Richard Rogers, as well as international superstars Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano and Alvaro Siza.

Niemeyer is best known for civic buildings in Brasilia, where he worked with masterplanner Lucio Costa. His most spectacular designs include the Presidential Palace, the seat of government, the Federal Supreme Court and the National Congress.

Other buildings of merit include the Cultural Centre at Le Havre and the Communist Party Headquarters in Paris - he himself being a communist for most of his working life.

Niemeyer made his UK debut last year designing the Serpentine Gallery, constructed from a steel frame with painted steel and glass cladding and a polished concrete screed floor.

The Praemium Imperiale Awards were launched in 1987 to commemorate the centenary of the Japan Art Association and the honour of Prince Takamatsu, who served as patron for 58 years.

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