PERCHED on a Valencia shoreline, the horizontal planes of the striking America’s Cup building cut through the sky, like the white capped wakes of sailboats.

The emblematic building, Veles e Vents (or Sails and Winds), in Valencia port, is often singled out as one of the east coast of Spain’s most captivating constructions.

But how many people know it was designed by British architect Sir David Chipperfield, 69, whose lifetime achievements have just landed the Pritzker Prize, the industry’s highest honour.

The gong—dubbed the ‘Nobel of architecture’—is awarded annually to the living architect who has best contributed to the built landscape with consistent talent, vision and commitment. 

Past winners include Rafael Moneo, I.M Pei, Zaha Hadid and, last year, Francis Kere.

“Chipperfield is assured without hubris, consistently avoiding trendiness to confront and sustain the connections between tradition and innovation, serving history and humanity,” said Chairman Tom Pritzker, at the ceremony in Greece.

Sir David Alan Chipperfield / Photo Courtesy Of Tom Welsh
Sir David Alan Chipperfield / Photo Courtesy Of Tom Welsh

A climate change and social inequality activist, Chipperfield’s buildings are known for restraint in design and in materials. 

He makes preserving place-hood a top priority in his work, using locally sourced materials and paying homage to the natural and architectural landscapes of their locations.

Chipperfield, who founded his London-based practice in 1985, is not just the visionary behind Veles e Vents, which was built for the America’s Cup and is a brilliant visual link between the Med and the city of Valencia. 

He also designed the amazing Ciutat de la Justícia in Barcelona, a colourful eight building complex of the legal courts of the Barcelona and L’Hospitalet governments. 

It is not only Chipperfield’s designs which find a home in Spain. Since 1995, the architect has savoured bayside views from a striking holiday home up in Galicia.

In the unostentatious fishing village of Corrubedo, the home blends a modernist style into an ordinary terrace beside a harbour.

As with the Galicia home, it is ingenuity, rather than a distinctly Chipperfield style, that imbues his body of work with lasting elegance. 

“We know that, as architects, we can have a more prominent and engaged role in creating not only a more beautiful world but a fairer and more sustainable one too,” Chipperfield said at the ceremony in Athens.

“We must rise to this challenge and help inspire the next generation to embrace this responsibility with vision and courage.”


America’s Cup Building ‘Veles e Vents', designed by David Chipperfield
America’s Cup Building ‘Veles e Vents,’ in Valencia / Photo by Christian Richters

Built for the America’s Cup, Vales e Vents is a visual link between the Mediterranean Sea and the city of València. Designed by David Chipperfield and Fermín Vázquez with a simple, minimalist style, the building is 25m high and has a surface area of 10,500 m2; the incorporation of horizontal platforms provides shade for the terraces, from which visitors can enjoy marvellous views not only over the marina and beaches, but over the entire city itself.


Court of Justice in Barcelona, designed by David Chipperfield
Cuitat de la Justíca building on the border of Barcelona and L’Hospitalet, designed by David Chipperfield

The Ciutat de la Justíca masterfully unites the legal courts of Barcelona and L’Hospitalet, consolidating what were once 17 buildings across the two cities into a mere eight buildings, situated in a bright public plaza. Chipperfield has injected colour and dynamism into his design—the pink, green, yellow and blue buildings vary in volume and none of the buildings stand parallel to one another—contesting the visually monolithic tradition of legal buildings.


Museum in Mexico City designed by David Chipperfield
The Museo Jumex in Mexico City, designed by David Chipperfield / Photo by Simon Menges

Chipperfield is currently working on a renovation of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Southwest Wing in New York City, as well as projects in Stockholm, Venice and Moscow.

His award-winning designs include the River and Rowing Museum, in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire and the Museo Jumex in Mexico City.


·        Skyscraper designed by Ricardo Bofill becomes tallest residential building in Spain’s Valencia

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