Herman Hertzberger takes the gold

06 Dec 2011

Queen Elizabeth II approves 2012 Royal Gold Medal for Architecture for Hertzberger

Widely recognised as one of the most important influential theorists of the architecture industry, Herman Hertzberger has been awarded the Royal Gold Medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), a prestigious award approved personally by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. This rare prize is given in recognition of a person - or group of people - whose professional actions have had a significant effect on the international architectural arena.

Speaking on the decision RIBA President, Angela Brady commented: “Herman Hertzberger has transformed the way we think about architecture, both as architect and people who use buildings. His architecture is about form 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 recognise the importance of his achievements and the effect his designs have on people and place.”

Born in Amsterdam in 1932, Hertzberger was professionally trained at the Technical University in Delft before returning to his birthplace to instigate his own practice in 1960. The present-day Architectuurstudio HH remains in Amsterdam and continues to produce some of the most thought-provoking building projects in the world. What really separates Hertzberger from his peers is his continued battle to challenge the idea of ‘form follows function’, a modernist mantra that dictated large volumes of work during the early stages of his career.

As part of his quest to reject this theorem Hertzberger created some of the most celebrated and influential works of the last few decades, defining spaces that ‘encourage our deeper human needs of dwelling and social activity’. Examples of this include Montessori School in Delft (1960-66), Central Baheer in Apeldoorn (1968-72) and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment in The Hague (1979-90).

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