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Chipperfield: 'Hepworth overcomes cultural anxiety about Modern architecture'

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David Chipperfield has said his Stirling Prize-nominated Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield shows Modern architecture can be accepted in the UK

Speaking at an RIBA event last night, he said: ‘In England we’ve got this anxiety over what the public is willing to accept [in architecture].’

‘There is a cumulative cultural anxiety over Modern architecture, but we’ve got to be careful in being overcautious.’

Talking about some of the ill-conceived developments around the site of his Wakefield Gallery, he added: ‘We are not very agile in this country about talking about architecture. It brings tears to your eyes when you see what has happened in Wakefield.’

The Hepworth has already been made the bookies’ favourite to win the £20,000 Stirling Prize this year (AJ 22.07.2012). Should it win, it will be the second time Chipperfield’s practice has scooped the award having won it in 2007 with the Museum of Modern Literature in Marbach am Neckar, Germany

Asked how he felt about being in the running to win the prestigious architectural accolade with a UK building, Chipperfield said: ‘It’s nice that it’s an all-British shortlist this year – usually you have projects from overseas on there too.

‘But prizes are prizes. We don’t do it for prizes, but it’s nice if you win one.’

Speaking of his other major UK project of the last year, the Turner Contemporary, he said: ‘The Turner is tiny – it was built for just £18million. What is good is that it shows how a small bit of architecture can do so much.’

Intriguingly, despite the backlash over the loss of television coverage of the Stirling Prize awards ceremony (AJ 06.07.2012), Chipperfield said: ‘It’s a great thing the event will not be televised live. What happens is you end up focusing on the dinner, not on the judges’ decision.’

He added: ‘You either have a dinner, or a television show. There was too much focus on the spectacle of it.’

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