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Swiss architect scoops coveted French prize

Roger Diener's extension to the Swiss embassy in Berlin has been controversial

(Keystone Archive)

Swiss architect Roger Diener has won the French Academy of Architecture's highest accolade.

Basel-born Diener picked up his "Grande Médaille d'Or" on Tuesday at a ceremony in Paris.

Diener's portfolio includes many attention-grabbing projects around the globe. He is currently overseeing an extension of the Museum of Modern Art in Rome.

The 52-year-old describes his work as "an ongoing study of towns and the relation between towns and architecture".

Slammed by critics

His most controversial recent project was the extension of the Swiss embassy in Berlin.

It attracted much media attention in May last year, and was slammed by critics, who said the cube-shaped annex looked completely put of place next to the 19th century embassy building, which survived the Second World War.

Local residents also took exception to the extension and have likened it to a bunker or a prison.

At the time, Diener's architectural firm, Diener and Diener, defended the mix of old and new, saying it was at once a reminder of the turbulent times the city has gone through and a witness to the new Germany.

Diener also designed the Rosengart Museum in Lucerne and the Pasqu'art Centre in Biel.

A professor of architecture at Zurich University, he also heads "Studio Basel" together with Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron and Marcel Meili. The architects describe the studio as an external experimental laboratory, developed to test new forms and methods of teaching.

swissinfo with agencies

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