The National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication is pleased to announce that its Director Philippe Block has been awarded the Berlin Art Prize in Architecture. Philippe Block accepted the prize during the awards’ ceremony on the 18 March in Berlin and presented a lecture the following day at the Academy of the Arts.

Awarded annually by the Berlin Academy of the Arts on behalf of the federal state of Berlin, the prize endowed with €5,000 prize money honours outstanding artists and promotes creative work in each of the Academy’s six sections: film and media art, architecture, music, literature, performing arts and visual arts.

Distinguished architectural achievements
The prize was officially presented to Philippe Block by Berlin’s Governing Mayor Michael Müller and Academy President Jeanine Meerapfel. Lord Norman Foster, Ian Ritchie and Patrik Schumacher formed the renowned jury that selected Philippe Block for the prize. About his work they said, “Philippe Block chooses construction projects in both high- and low-tech contexts to advance and adapt their methods and tools to a variety of cultural and geographical conditions, demonstrating that when the structural form is in equilibrium, buildings can be constructed economically through form rather than through the strengths of their materials.”

Efficient construction of complex architecture
Philippe Block has been professor of architecture and structural engineering at the Institute of Technology in Architecture at ETH Zurich since 2009. Since 2017, he is the Director of the NCCR Digital Fabrication. Together with Dr. Tom Van Mele, he heads the Block Research Group (BRG). By learning from master builders from the past and by following a geometry-based approach, the BRG explores complex structural design and engineering problems. As part of the 15th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, the group constructed the impressive Armadillo Vault, a shell comprised of 399 individually cut limestone pieces held in place purely by compression without reinforcement or mortar. The latest example of their outstanding work is the successful construction of a beautiful 1:1 prototype for a an ultra-thin, doubly curved shell roof, using a cable-net and fabric formwork system. The roof will be re-built for the innovation unit HiLo on the modular research and innovation building NEST of Empa and Eawag in Dübendorf, Switzerland.

The NCCR Digital Fabrication is very proud of its Director and congratulates him on being recognised for his outstanding architectural achievements.

Further information can be found in the press release of the Academy of the Arts at the following link.

Image credits: Naida Iljazovic