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Herman Hertzberger wins RIBA Gold Medal

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Dutch architect Herman Hertzberger has won the 2012 RIBA Gold Medal

The 79-year-old Amsterdam-born architect is best known for his revolutionary Centraal Beheer Insurance Company building in Apeldoorn.

A professor at Delft University of Technology from 1970 to 1999, he also designed the ground-breaking Delft Montessori school.

RIBA President Angela Brady said: ‘Herman Hertzberger has transformed the way we think about architecture, both as architects and people who use buildings. His architecture is about from and space which he defines as “place which has not been appropriated”.

‘Throughout his career his humanity has shone through in his schools, homes, theatres and workplaces. The RIBA is delighted to recognize the importance of his achievements and the effect his designs have on people and place.’

Tony McGuirk of BDP added: ‘I’ve visited Montessori School in East Amsterdam about half a dozen times taking several clients there to show them what a school could really be like- ‘like a small City’ as Hertzberger put it.’

‘It is great that this wonderfully creative humanist architect has now been recognised with the highest prize. Somehow it seems so fresh to give the medal to an architect who has dedicated his life to architecture as the ‘art of the useful’ to people.’

Hertzberger will collect his award at a RIBA ceremony on 9 February 2012.


Herman Hertzberger, key buildings

  • Faculty of Science University of Utrecht (2006-11)
  • Coda Shelter for Culture (museum) Apeldoorn (2004-11)
  • NHL University Leeuwarden (2004-10)
  • Waternet Head Office, Amsterdam (2000-05)
  • Media Park & Housing Cologne, Germany (2004-04)
  • Floating Villa - Middelburg (2002-04)
  • + Watersniphof & Zwanenhof (1998-2004)
  • YKK Dormitory, Kurobe, Japan (1991-98)
  • Chasse Concert Hall, Breda (1992-95)
  • LiMa Wohnungsbau - Berlin (1982-86)
  • Apolloscholen, Amsterdam (1980-83)
  • Music Palace Vrendenberg, Utrecht (1973-78, being renewed 2003-13)
  • Centraal Beheer Apeldoorn (1968-72)
  • Diagoon Housing, Delft (1969-70)
  • Student House Amsterdam (1959-66)
  • Montessori School, Delft (1960-66)
  • Lin Mij (textile workshop) Amsterdam (1962-64 – demolished)


Tom Dyckhoff, who interviewed Hertzberger for his programme The Secret Life of Buildings
‘Hertzberger is really underrated. His interaction with the user was very forward thinking. He is a nice chap and completely without ego. He should have got the Gold Medal years ago.’

Simon Allford of AHMM
‘Hertzberger is a key figure in post war Dutch architecture whose projects have influenced a particular group of teachers and architects. For me however far too much is made by these acolytes of the supposed humanity of Centraal Beheer, a singular HQ for an Insurance Company built around the success of its ironic adverts. Some of his later projects are much better in that they are more open to different ideas of occupation, less constraining and thankfully more widely influential.’

Tony Fretton of Tony Fretton Architects
Hertzberger has been a significant force in architecture and in education through his role first as professor at TU Delft and then as founding Dean of the Berlage institute. He holds a very valuable place in European architecture as a humanist and maintained this position through a period in which architecture was tested by very different ideologies.’

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Readers' comments (1)

  • mmm...don't think he's been really underrated at all.

    He has been considered an outstanding architect and educator for as long as I can remember. Particularly recently by those able to distinguish architecture from product design. I think instead others have been overrated.

    Depends I guess on how much you value the RIBA Gold Medal as the true measure of an architect.

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