Porto-based architect Eduardo Souto de Moura has been named the 2011 Pritzker Prize laureate for his considerable achievements in the field of architecture and the built environment. The selection of Souto de Moura as this year’s recipient of the world’s most sought-after architectural prize marks a noticeable step away from a developing pattern of so-called ‘starchitects’. Over the last few years, the laureates have been internationally recognised figures, both in professional and public circles, such as Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel, Frank Gehry and Peter Zumthor.
This year’s winner, the Portuguese designer Souto de Moura works largely within his native country, although his 2005 Serpentine Pavilion in London’s Kensington Gardens with Alvaro Siza (the 1992 Pritzker Prize laureate) was internationally well received. In their selection of Souto de Moura the Pritzker Prize jury panel cited numerous projects of his within Portugal, including the Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, Estádio Municipal de Braga and the Burgo Office Tower in Porto.
Chairman of the jury, Lord Palumbo said: “During the past three decades, Eduardo Souto de Moura has produced a body of work that is of our time but also carries echoes of architectural traditions. His buildings have a unique ability to convey seemingly conflicting characteristics – power and modesty, bravado and subtlety, bold public authority and a sense of intimacy – at the same time.”
Over the years, 58-year-old Souto de Moura has completed more than 60 buildings in a variety of sectors from commercial to leisure, entertainment to public art, in a choice selection of European countries.The 2011 recipient’s tough, assertive style may be highly recognisable to practicing architects yet his work remains relatively unknown to those outside the field, suggesting a move away from the ‘iconic’ architecture of recent Pritzker Prize winners and the celebration of the more local, humble practitioner. One may view this diversion as a reflection on the tough economic times of late.