CHRISTIAN DE PORTZAMPARC
Born in 1944, Christian de Portzamparc is a leading architect and urban planner, who was awarded with the Pritzker Architecture Prize at the age of 50 as the first French winner and also with the most prestigious city planning prize in France, The Grand Prix de l’Urbanisme.
His architectural style is known for its distinctive features such as bold designs, an artistic approach and the creativity that comes with him being a watercolor painter. He is especially esteemed as a designer of concert hall, operas, philharmonies and an urban planner.
He studied architecture in Paris and New York, and became famous for his design of the rue des Hautes Formes in Paris and the large scale project for François Mitterrand called the City of Music (1995). It involved creating music halls of different sizes and a music museum.
His important works include NexusⅡ (1991), a residential complex in Fukuoka, LVMH Tower (1991), and two skyscrapers, the One57 (2014) and the Prism tower (2016) in New York, the Philharmonie of Luxembourg (2005), the City of Arts (2013), a cultural complex in Rio de Janeiro, the Paris la Défense Arena (2017), an indoor stadium in Nanterre, on the outskirts of Paris and the Shangyin Opera House in Shanghai (2019). Currently he is engaged in large scale projects as the Great Theatre of Casablanca, the largest theater in Africa and in China, the Suzhou Cultural Center in China, scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020.
The agency of Christian and Elizabeth de Portzamparc, 2Portzamparc works on building projects of all sizes together with a wide variety of construction programs. Each project represents a new challenge requiring extensive research and experimentation, from the initial designs to the search for solutions.
The agency can also be described as an “urban laboratory” that performs in-depth urban and structural analyses, a technique developed by Christian de Portzamparc since the 70’s based on projects “manifestoes”, competitions and studies. This has allowed him to develop his methods and apply theoretical research and analysis principles to a multitude of practical situations.
In his new vision of urban structure, which he called the “open block”, his work focuses on research in urban planning and concerns on the quality of collective and individual living spaces.
From singular buildings to rethought urbanism, the city is indeed one of the founding subjects of his work, which at the same time develops around three major themes: buildings that bring together the public as places of culture, music or institutions, landmark buildings such as towers, and parts of the city and neighbourhoods, from the block to the evolution of metropolises in the Greater Paris area for example.
Landmark buildings often become urban benchmarks or symbols that draw an area together to create the essential marks which the immense urban landscape of metropolises requires.
Throughout these large unique objects, landmark buildings, urban poles of attraction, the interior and exterior spaces intersect like in the Cidade das Arte in Rio. Completed in 2013 it is a unique concert hall in the world that can be transformed into an opera hall. It houses a theatre, a music chamber and popular music hall, a movie theatre, dance and rehearsal rooms, exhibition spaces, and restaurants.
Since the 80’s, Christian de Portzamparc’s enduring passion for music has led him to enter a series of music and dance-related architectural competitions, including the Paris Opera Ballet School in Nanterre, France (awarded the Equerre d’Argent 1988) and the Cité de la Musique in Paris, France (awarded the Equerre d’Argent 1995), the Philharmonie Luxembourg (International Architecture Award 2008 by The Chicago Athenaeum Museum), or Cidade das Artes in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil (International Architecture Award 2008 by The Chicago Athenaeum Museum, “Grand Prix AFEX 2014 of the French architecture in the world”, awarded by the association French Architects Overseas).
In July 2009, the international competition for the Africa’s largest Theatre New Art saw Christian de Portzamparc’ project winning among projects from aha Hadid, Franck O. GGehry Rem Koolhaas and Aziz Lazrak, renowed architects Z. Portzamparc’s project was to breathe life into this vast institutional square and give a contemporary twist to its classical composition. This winning project – at he 1,800-seat main hall is designed to host musical concerts, classical theatre plays and various other large-scale performances – gives the impression of being composed of several detached houses, like a medina in the city.
In 2011, Bernard Arnault commissioned Christian de Portzamparc with the construction of a Dior flagship store in the elegant neighborhood of Cheongdam-dong, on Apgujeong Avenue in Seoul. Inspired by the haute couture creation of this famous house, the building is a manifesto with white curves undulating toward the sky in a subtle dissymmetry that evokes the cloth at the genesis of every couture piece (International Architecture Award 2016 for the best new global design awarded by The Chicago Athenaeum Museum).
Inaugurated in October 2017, the “Paris La Défense Arena” is an “indoor” stadium and the ground of the “Racing-Metro 92” rugby team, in the Hauts-de-Seine region. A French sporting legend since 1882, the club was taken over in 2006 by its current president Jacky Lorenzetti. The stadium is also being used as a large performance space accommodating 10,000 to 40,000 people. It is the largest indoor multipurpose facility with a variable capacity in France. Located in the town of Nanterre, close to the “Grande Arche” in La Défense, this project falls within the scope of the “Seine-Arche operation of national interest” – the status accorded by the State to territorial projects which are aligned with national strategies and objectives.
In 2013, Christian de Portzamparc is commissioned by the city to design the Suzhou Cultural Center. It is one of a series of prestigious projects as part of the Wujiang Lakefront Masterplan. As the flagship project of this brand-new locality, the city is developing a remarkable site of over 100,000 sq.m. It lies at the convergence of one of China’s most beautiful lakes and the major urban perspective of the new city.
NEIGHBOURHOODS AND THE CITY
Neighbourhoods and the city are central to Christian de Portzamparc’s practical and intellectual contribution to the current architectural debate. Recognising the central importance of the infinitely subtle human context, in which local conditions are “grist to his mill”, his interventions operate at a number of different levels, both as an architect in the purist sense and as an urban planner.
From the city to the object, Christian de Portzamparc has worked on towers since his first projects in 1974, when he designed a water tower covered with vegetation, which became a poetic landmark for a new city in Marne-la-Vallée, France, followed in 1991 by the Lille Tower, a unique, sculptural object built over a railway station in Rem Koolhaas’s “Euralille” district (completed in 1995).
The towers designed by Christian de Portzamparc are the results of his research into vertical volume and its sculptural dimension, which he has crystalised into his characteristic prismatic forms.
His best known tower is the LVMH Tower in New York, USA, completed in 1999 (Business Week and Architectural Record award 2006), followed by the competition for the Hearst tower in 2000 and soon to be accompanied by the residential tower, Prism on Park Avenue in Manhattan, New York, USA, approved by the City Planning authorities in 2004, which was opened in late May 2015. And completed in 2014, with its 300 meters high, the One57 tower in New York is hosting a luxury hotel occupies the first 20 floors and 130 super-luxury condominiums in co-ownership, among which some offer breathtaking views of Central Park and the “skyline” of the city.
Currently under study are two towers in Paris-La Défense including offices and a hotel complex, the Sisters towers, scheduled for delivery in 2024.
- 1988 – Equerre d’Argent – awarded by the press group Le Moniteur for the Dance School of the Paris Opera in Nanterre
- 1989 – Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters – awarded by the French Ministry of Culture
- 1990 – The Great Prize of Architecture of the City of Paris – awarded by the Mayor of Paris
- 1992 – Médaille d’Argent – awarded by the French Academy of Architecture
- 1993 – Great National Prize of Architecture – awarded by the French Ministry of Urbanism and Transport
- 1994 – Pritzker Prize of Architecture – awarded by the Hyatt Foundation
- 1995 – Equerre d’Argent awarded by the French press group Le Moniteur for the City of Music – Conservatory of Music and Dance in Paris
- 2001 – Business Week and Architectural Record Award for the LVMH tower in New York (USA)
- 2004 – The Great Prize of Urbanism – awarded by an international jury who ‘wanted to congratulate a work with achievements of high quality combined with city vision and philosophy articulating theoretical concepts and concrete realisations, while developing an optimistic vision for the future through his works and writings’
- 2005 – MIPIM Award for the remodelling of the building for the press group Le Monde in Paris
- 2008 – Construction of international research on “Le Grand Pari de l’agglomération parisienne”
- 2010 – “Belgian Building Awards”, the Hergé museum of Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
- 2013 – “International Architecture Awards for the best new global design“ awarded by The Chicago Athenaeum for the chai de Château Cheval Blanc at Saint-Emilion in France
- 2016 – The “Mediterranean Mimar Sinan Prize“ awarded by UMAR, Union of Mediterranean Architects, for his architectural work
- 2016 – “International Architecture Awards for the best new global design“ awarded by The Chicago Athenaeum pour House of Dior at Séoul in South korea.
- 2018 – Praemium Imperiale award- Architecture category