Wednesday night saw the royal family of the Netherlands award the Prince Claus Prize at Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ in Amsterdam.. The Prize is in honor of Queen Beatrix’s late husband, who died in 2002. It began in 1997, and has a theme every year.
This year’s theme was culture and nature, and the winner was Colombian architect Simon Velez, who has been researching on how bamboo can be used as building material. Velez has designed buildings in the United States, Germany and China. In the Netherlands he will make a design for the stage in the new Tolhuistuin in Amsterdam-Noord, which will consist of a bamboo structure.
Upon receiving the award, Velez said to the audience, “Every construction which consists of concrete, steel or wood, bamboo can also be built.” He added there were doubts about his bamboo-design for the Indian pavilion at the Expo in Shanghai next year. “They wanted it would be steel. Once they heard I had won the Prince Claus Award, they gave permission to use bamboo.”
The nature and culture theme for this year’s Prince Claus Prize seems to coincide with the UN Climate Change summit in Copenhagen. Even some members of the Dutch royal family made comments on the environment.
“People seem to have forgotten to draw modestly against nature,” said Prince Constantijn, who presented the award. “The natural resources are being depleted and global warming threatens the delicate balance of our climate.”
The Prince Claus Prize is given to artists, thinkers and other innovators from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Winners receive 100,000 euros as part of the award.