Erik L’Heureux,
winner of the 2015 Wheelwright Prize

Erik L’Heureux,
winner of the 2015 Wheelwright Prize

Harvard University Graduate School of Design

2015 Wheelwright Prize winner Erik L’Heureux. Image courtesy of Harvard Graduate School of Design.
April 27, 2015
Erik L’Heureux, winner of the 2015 Wheelwright Prize

Singapore-based American architect wins for his proposal,
Hot and Wet: The Equatorial City and the Architectures of Atmosphere 

Twitter: Harvard GSD / Twitter: Cathy Lang Ho / #WheelwrightPrize

Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) is pleased to announce that Erik L’Heureux, an American architect based in Singapore, is the winner of the 2015 Wheelwright Prize, a 100,000 USD traveling fellowship aimed at fostering investigative approaches to contemporary design. L’Heureux, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, is currently an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore and principal of his own firm, Pencil Office. His winning proposal, Hot and Wet: The Equatorial City and the Architectures of Atmosphere, focuses on the architecture of five dense cities in the equatorial zone—Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Pondicherry, India; Lagos, Nigeria; São Paulo, Brazil—where he will examine traditional and modern building strategies that mediate extreme climate conditions while addressing the mounting pressure of rapid urbanization and climate change.

The jury praised L’Heureux’s accomplishments as an architect, educator, and author, as well as his research project which will study “modes of atmospheric calibration at the urban scale,” and architecture’s historic and potential response to a range of atmospheres (hot, wet, humid, breezy, artificial, hermetic, and more) while taking into account social, political, and environmental concerns. The 100,000 USD grant will fund L’Heureux’s travel-based research over the next two years.

The Wheelwright Prize is now in its third year as an open international competition for early career architects. The 2015 cycle received nearly 200 submissions from 51 countries, including Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Poland, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Zimbabwe, and more. From a strong global pool of applicants, the Wheelwright Prize jury identified three finalists, including: Malkit Shoshan (BArch 2004, Technion—Israel Institute of Technology), an Israeli-Dutch architect-scholar based in Amsterdam and founder of architectural thinktank FAST (Foundation for Achieving Seamless Territory), whose work explores the relationship between architecture, politics, and human rights; and Quynh Vantu (BArch 2001, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and MArch 2009, Cranbrook Academy of Art), an American architect and artist with a studio-based practice devoted to spatial experimentation, now studying at the Bartlett in London. The three finalists were invited to speak at Harvard GSD on April 16. (The presentations are viewable here).

“We commend L’Heureux, Shoshan, and Vantu, who are each working impressively to broaden the definition and possibilities of architectural practice,” remarked Jury Chair K. Michael Hays, Eliot Noyes Professor of Architectural Theory and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Harvard GSD. “L’Heureux is an example of an architect with a strong practice who has developed a serious intellectual project that relates organically to his own work. His proposal is not just about technology and efficiency, but deals with the politicization of ecologies and economies in a complicated region and architecture’s complicity in much larger issues.”

Born in Jamestown, Rhode Island, L’Heureux received his BA in Architecture from Washington University in 1996 and his MArch from Princeton University in 2000. He went on to work for several architecture firms in New York, including Perkins + Will, GWK Architects, and Agrest and Gandelsonas, and taught at the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at The Cooper Union. He has won numerous design awards including the 2013 World Architecture Festival (WAF) Category Design Award, 2012 AIA New York City Design Merit Award, and 2011 President’s Design Award from Singapore. He co-curated and designed the exhibition 1,000 Singapores: A Model of the Compact City, which first appeared at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2010 and will be presented later this year at the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine in Paris. He is widely published and his book Deep Veils, about building enclosures in tropical climates, was released last year by ORO Editions.


2015 Wheelwright Prize Jury:

K. Michael Hays, Eliot Noyes Professor of Architectural Theory and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Harvard GSD (Jury Chair)
–Craig Evan Barton, Professor of Architecture and Urban Design and Director of the Design School at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University
–Preston Scott Cohen, architect and Gerald M. McCue Professor at Harvard GSD
–Sarah Herda, Director of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Study in the Fine Arts and Co-artistic Director of the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial (opening October 2015)
–Elisa Silva, Founder of Enlace Arquitectura and winner Arthur C. Wheelwright Traveling Fellowship in 2011


Full winner’s release is downloadable here. For additional information, artwork, or jury comments, please contact Cathy Lang Ho.

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April 27, 2015

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