Pritzker Prize judges have turned their backs on the trend for 'celebrity and glitz starchitects' to award the solo Australian designer Glenn Murcutt this year's crown. The 66-year-old 'Pritzker Laureate' works in Sydney but travels the world teaching and lecturing.
His trademark Modernist homes are 'scrupulously energy conscious', said Thomas Pritzker, president of sponsor Hyatt Foundation. Murcutt's designs were neither large-scale nor luxurious, and often used materials like corrugated iron, said Pritzker. He worked alone and drew from wideranging influences from Mies van der Rohe to Australian woodsheds.
Jury chairman J Carter Brown, chairman of the US Commission for Fine Arts, said Murcutt was unique. 'In an age obsessed with celebrity, the glitz of our starchitects backed by large staffs and copious public relations, Murcutt is a total contrast.'
The architect receives a US$100,000 (£70,000) grant and bronze medallion based on designs of Louis Sullivan on 29 May in Rome.Murcutt is also touted as a future Royal Gold Medal winner.
His designs include homes in New South Wales, such as Magney House, a long, rectilinear plan with curved roof in Bingie Bingie.
Architecture critic and jury member Ada Louise Huxtable said: 'Murcutt is totally focused on shelter and the environment, with skills drawn from nature and the most sophisticated design traditions of the modern movement.'Marco Goldschmied said: 'He's done a lot of interesting things and is consistent'. And he suggested that Archigram would make a good future winner and could use the money to archive its work, currently shoved under beds and in cupboards.
The annual Pritzker Prize, honouring a living architect with vision and commitment, started in 1979 with Philip Johnson the first winner. James Stirling won in 1981, Tadao Ando in 1995, and Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron won last year.