The medal was issued jointly by the Alvar Aalto Foundation, the Museum of Finnish Architecture, the Architectural Society, the Finnish Association of Architects SAFA and the City of Helsinki.
The 2017 prize was awarded for the 13th time at a jubilee seminar to mark its 50th anniversary. This year’s award focuses particularly on promising young architects.
The foundation said, “Zhang Ke prefers to use local building materials and techniques, while he favors recycling over demolishing.” The medalist impressed the jury with his sustainable architecture.
The jury praised Zhang’s work, as he uses historic references to serve the preservation of traditions. “By combining landscape elements in his work, Zhang Ke is able to subtly fit his architecture into the surrounding terrain, creating harmonious relationships between landscape and architecture,” said the foundation.
In a time of political unrest worldwide, the medal should be dedicated to humanism in architecture, emphasized the jury.
Zhang told Xinhua that he was very proud to be the first Chinese to win the prize as the award has been given to only one person each time and issued only once every a few years.