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David Chipperfield Stirling interview

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Just minutes after the Chipperfield team learned that they had won the Stirling Prize, Max Thompson interviewed a jaunty David Chipperfield and the Museum of Modern Literature project architect ­ the tall, ponytailed Alexander Schwarz. Chipperfield was clutching the foot-long metallic rectangular box that is the Stirling Prize and the pair were not impressed by it...

The trophy ...?

Chipperfield: It is not tectonic enough.

Schwarz: It should have the capacity to age with dignity. Well, at least the names are great.

Do you have a favourite past winner?

Chipperfield: I think Laban is the best one. But, I'm not a great fan of Wilkinson (Eyre) because there is a certain type of English architecture which is little bit expedient.

What was your client's (The German Archive of Literature) brief?

Chipperfield: The client is a very respected institute and well known among academics and researchers, but it is not well known amongst the general public and this building was an attempt to build a bridge between the public and the work of the institute.

The exhibits [which include Kafka's original manuscript for The Trial] are not very easy to show. They are pieces of processes that are not designed to be looked at.

The building has been described as Fascist

Chipperfield: There is not a link with Fascism, there is a strong link with Classical architecture. Simplistically, in Germany the Classical tradition was hijacked by Nazis and so there was a period, very prevalent in south Germany, where architecture in Germany had to look much more informal and casual.

I think the one thing we have done in Germany that has been picked up is a legitimisation of a modern Classicism and from our point of view we are interested in the abstract qualities of Classical architecture.

The column is a Classical measure of man.

Schwarz: But somehow it is not even columns, it is sticks that allow voids next to them. It is the sticks and the gaps.

Chipperfield: On the one hand this is really modern, and on the other we recognise that there is a certain tectonic clarity.

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