Dominique Perrault Praemium Imperiale 2015

El Praemium Imperiale 2015 es para el arquitecto francés Dominique Perrault.

Otorgado por la Asociacion Japonesa de Arte, el premio es uno de los grand slam de la arquitectura, se otorga anualmente a toda una carrera en cinco campos: Pintura, Escultura, Musica, Teatro/Cine y Arquitectura.

El premio lo otorgará este 21 de Octubre el principe Hitachi en Tokio.


Dominique Perrault has made his own
path in contemporary architecture, gaining in no-
toriety over the years both in and outside of his
native France. Born in 1953 in Clermont-Ferrand,
he studied in Paris and received his diploma as
an architect from the École des Beaux-Arts in
1978. He received a further degree in Urban-
ism at the École nationale des Ponts et Chaussées
in 1979, as well as a Master’s in History at the
EHESS (École des hautes études en sciences so-
ciales) in 1980. He created his own firm in 1981
in Paris. Though he completed works before that
date, Perrault’s career took a sudden upswing
when an international jury selected him to design
the French National Library in Paris in 1989. The

French National Library, Paris, France, 1989-1995

last of President François Mitterrand’s Grands
Travaux, a series of cultural projects that includ-
ed the Louvre Pyramid by I.M. Pei, the Library is
made up of four 79-meter high towers, imagined
like open books around a sunken central court-
yard. This project underlines a number of charac-
teristics of Perrault’s other work, in particular the
use of “chain mail” cladding for surfaces, replac-
ing the more usual smooth, modern appearance.
The central garden merits attention. “The modern
movement always had a very Puritan relationship
with the earth,” says Dominique Perrault. “When
Le Corbusier imagined setting buildings up on pi-
lotis so that they would not touch the earth, his
attitude was very peculiar. In my project, the idea

of the natural level of the earth disappears, and
the building blends with nature. In Paris, one has
the impression that the garden of the Library is at
the level of the Seine, but in fact, it is ten meters
lower. One almost feels that the garden was there
before the building and that the Library somehow
protects it. This relationship with the earth is com-
plex, and it contradicts the usual Modernist ten-
ets.” When pressed on this point, Perrault goes
on to explain “The garden is not only beautiful,
it is sacred. Visitors cannot enter it. It is the sym-
bolic place of origin of the Library, it brings calm
and light to the interior. It is in some sense the first
garden.1” Twenty years after its inauguration in
1995, the French National Library remains one
of the most significant contemporary public build-
ings in France.

Perrault went on to dig into the earth in such
seminal projects as the Velodrome and Olympic
Swimming Pool (Berlin, Germany, 1992–99), or
more recently the Ewha Womans University in
Seoul (South Korea, 2004–08). The Ewha pro-
ject appears like a slash in the earth, leading us-
ers down to the facilities. This kind of typological
and stylistic inversion is indicative of the pro-
found nature of Dominique Perrrault’s contribu-
tion to contemporary architecture. With the 2015
Praemium Imperiale award to Dominique Per-
rault, notice is duly taken on the international
scale of the significance of his work.

With projects such as the reconstruction and ex-
pansion of the Court of Justice of the European

Union (Luxembourg, 2008/ ongoing), the re-
purposing of the former Poste du Louvre (Paris,
2018) or the 250-meter DC Tower (Vienna,
2014), Dominique Perrault has engaged in diffe-
rent types of work, often on a large scale and
with considerable technical challenges that he
always meets with an inventive spirit. His inno-
vation is first theoretical but then also esthetic.
Although his work is identifiably contemporary it
is also permeated with unexpected materials and
surfaces. Dominique Perrault has actively sought
to make his approach to architectural innovation
known through an initiative he calls DPAx, a re-
search platform “that calls for a multidisciplinary
dialogue to explore architecture from a wider

Through his built work, his projects and his
thought, Dominique Perrault has created a unique
place for himself in the world of contemporary
architecture. He is young by the standards of the
highest level of his profession and it is clear that
Dominique Perrault will more and more be consi-
dered one of the outstanding figures of his gene-

Philip Jodidio
September 1, 2015