HELSINKI, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- Chinese architect Zhang Ke was awarded 2017 Alvar Aalto Medal, one of the most internationally recognized architecture prizes, Finland's Alvar Aalto Foundation announced on Tuesday.
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.
He believed the award was an encouragement to the whole Chinese architecture. "China is witnessing a culture revival, and what is needed the most is the respect of history and the urban environment."
Born in 1970, Zhang Ke graduated from Qinghua University and the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He is the founder of the ZAO/standardarchitecture, which is one of the leading design firms in China. He is a guest professor in Harvard University.
Since 2006, Zhang Ke has won several domestic and international architectural design prizes. His design works have been exhibited at international architectural events in Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, among other countries.
The Alvar Aalto Medal has been awarded intermittently since 1967, and it was set in honor of Alvar Aalto, the most famous architect in Finland and a representative of the Nordic style. The award is conferred to individuals and firms internationally in recognition of a significant contribution to creative architecture.