On Necessary Alternatives

written by Vera Grimmer


The time of spectacles has passed. Buildings designed by star architects, mostly used for large companies’ branding purposes are no longer admired by the public, at least not by professionals. That is apparent from the list of the Pritzker Prize Award laureates from the last couple of years. The 2002 Pritzker Prize went to Glenn Murcutt, the Australian master of architecture, who has always been considerate to the environment and was rather unknown in the world of publishing and critical theory at the time, which was pretty surprising. The final change of the paradigm was confirmed by the fact that the 2018 Pritzker Prize was given to Balkrishna Doshi, an Indian architect who has devoted his whole life to the welfare of people and the environment. Many other altruistic architects of the younger generation follow a similar trend. Projects designed by the architects Anna Heringer and Francis Kéré, realised in cooperation with the local communities of Bangladesh and Burkina Faso, have drawn international attention. Projects realised by Studio Mumbai, based on the consistency of their collective work, as well as the practice of the architect Anupama Kundoo, also have to be emphasised. Their work was recognised at an important architectural forum – Venice Biennale of Architecture. For example, the young Mexican architects from the Comunal: Taller de Arquitectura help indigenous communities by designing social housing projects while using prefabricated elements made of natural materials. The speed of construction, often involving the users themselves, reduces overall expenses and resources, while natural environment and vernacular construction, based on the accumulated knowledge, are also respected.