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Architect Christian de Portzamparc winner of Pritzker Prize | Projects in Berlin

Facade of the French Embassy in Berlin, Christian de Portzamparc

17th Pritzker Architecture Prize winner

French architect Christian de Portzamparc (born May 5, 1944) received the Pritzker Prize in 1994 at the Commons Center in Columbus, Indiana.

De Portzamparc is an architect, urban planner and painter. He also researches about form, meaning and how aesthetics are conditioned by ethics.  Each project designed by the architect is special due to extensive research and experimentation applied during the design process and until its construction.

Among his theoretical research and analysis principles he has developed the "open block", a renewed vision of urban structure. The "open block" research focuses on the quality of living spaces, analyzing the city as a building block with three main elements: landmark buildings, towers and neighborhoods. 

"His expanded perceptions and ideas seek answers beyond mere style." -Pritzker Prize Jury Citation, 1994.

Among his portfolio of projects the buildings dedicated to music and dance have a special place. He is also known for his urban interventions and tower designs. His expressive and elegant forms as a new interpretation of modern architecture have become his trademark. 

"He is a gifted composer using space, structure, texture, form, light and color all shaped by his personal vision." -Pritzker Prize Jury Citation, 1994.

In 1994, when he was receiving the 17th Prizker, one of his most celebrated designs was being constructed, the City of Music in Paris. 


Building in Berlin

French Embassy, Berlin

View of the French Embassy from Parizer Platz.

The French Embassy at the German capital was designed by the first French architect to win the Pritzker Prize. Architect Christian de Portzamparc won the competition for designing the French Embassy in Berlin in 1997. The building was completed in 2002.

It is located in Parizer Platz, the original location before being destroyed during WWII. Due to its location the design was expected to follow several restrictions resulting in a facade positively described by some as integrating with the surrounding facades. Other criticized the design as too massive and resembling a "bunker".

The ground floor has, by following restrictions, a massive stone facade with rectangular openings.


Street view, from Parizer Platz

The interiors were designed by Elizabeth de Portzamparc, the architect's wife, in an art deco style that was not very well taken by critics. Although the interior garden and working spaces were very well received by the users.

De Portzamparc had designed a public passage through the building but it had to be closed for security reasons. An entrance open to the public is located in Wilhelmstraße.


"Architecture is an art, but a public art. More often than not, the public does not choose architecture as it would a museum to visit. Instead, architecture is imposed on us, in our daily life, our homes and our places of work. And for this reason, the architect-artist is accountable for his work; he owes an explanation." -Christian de Portzamparc, Pritzker Architecture Prize Acceptance Speech 1994.

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