The recipient of the international Spirit Of Nature Wood Architecture Award 2008 is architect José Cruz Ovalle from Chile. Amounting to 40,000 euros, the award is given by the Wood in Culture Association.
“José Cruz Ovalle is an undisputed representative of contemporary architecture and a master of the use of wood”, is how the President of the Jury, Professor Matti Rautiola, Architect SAFA, argues for the jury’s choice. “The basic lines throughout all Cruz Ovalle’s production are sensitivity and poetry, but at the same time also rationality. A building by José Cruz Ovalle creates an environment where the architecture simultaneously introduces an amicable microclimate, a flowing symphony of spaces, carefully considered material solutions and a place for encounters.”
The international Spirit of Nature Wood Architecture Award is granted for architectural merit to individuals or groups who have shown a skilled and creative use of wood in their work. The jury notes that wood plays a central role in Cruz Ovalle’s architecture. Even in buildings made of stone, most surfaces that can be touched consist of beautiful wood. In addition to his own home, he has designed several excellent examples of structural wood architecture, including facilities for a timber company and for several wineries. “The structural use of wood contains an expressive strength that takes it beyond the indispensable basic solution and transforms it into poetry of technical perfection,” notes the jury.
Pérez Cruz Winery in Maipo Alto, Chile by José Cruz Ovalle
José Cruz Ovalle himself says that the freedom afforded by wood as material has encouraged him to use it in both large and small projects. “The material shows its splendour from the very day a column rises up or a beam is put in place. One can no longer differentiate between the structural work and the finishing. We can inhabit the immediacy of the structures and the contact with the surfaces, be they bent or straight, flat or warped.”
Pérez Cruz Winery
José Cruz Ovalle was born in 1948 in Santiago de Chile. He began his architectural studies in 1968 at the Catholic University of Chile (Universidad Católica de Chile). In 1970 he moved to Barcelona, and in 1973 he completed his architectural degree at the Polytechnic University of Barcelona (Universidad Politécnica de Barcelona). In 1975–87 he ran his own architectural studio in Barcelona. In 1983–1986 he acted as teacher in the Institute of Aesthetics of the Department of Architecture at the Polytechnic University of Barcelona, together with philosopher Eugenio Trias.
He returned to Chile in 1987 and opened an architectural studio in Santiago de Chile, which is where he currently works with his wife Ana Turrell and his partners Juan Purcell and Hernán Cruz.
Pérez Cruz Winery
In 1992, Cruz Ovalle received international acclaim with the design of the Chilean pavilion for the World Exhibition in Seville. Among his recent work, the chief projects include Hotel Patagonia Explora (1994 and 2005), Hotel Rapa Nui Explora in the Easter Islands (2007) and the Adolfo Ibañez University in Santiago (2001 and 2007). Other projects significant for their use of wood include the wine cellars for Pérez Cruz (2001) and Los Robles (2002).
Pérez Cruz Winery
The International Spirit of Nature Wood Architecture Award is now distributed for the fifth time. The first recipient was the Italian architect Renzo Piano in 2000. Since then, the award has been conferred to architects Kengo Kuma from Japan (2002), Richard Leplastrier from Australia (2004) and Peter Zumthor from Switzerland (2006).
The award is conferred by the Wood in Culture Association, established in 1998 to promote the use of wood by means of culture. The award is enabled through the support of the Finnish Forest Foundation, the City of Lahti and the Lahti Regional Development Company LAKES.
In 2008, the President of the Jury was Professor Matti Rautiola, Architect SAFA, and its members were architects Sarlotta Narjus, Unto Siikanen and Jens Thomas Arnfred from Denmark.
Images by John Purcell and the Wood in Culture Association.
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