The jury proposed awarding the First Prize in the fourth International Prize for Sacred Architecture to the project for the new monastery of Our Lady of Novy Dvur (Czech Republic) (no. 47).
The members of the commission appreciated the result achieved through a construction of great rigour, silence and eloquence, which is both normal and extraordinary at the same time, in which a powerful interchange between the architecture and its inhabitants is evident.
Recalling the careful evaluation made by the client regarding the architect who would be best able to respond to the expectations of the monastic community, it must be acknowledged that the choice of English architect John Pawson responded to the desire of the monks of the Benedictine Abbey of Sept-Fons to realize an intensely Cistercian work by updating the ethical and aesthetic canons advocated by St. Bernard of Clairvaux while respecting the author’s rigorous minimalist poetics.
The restoration of an abandoned farmhouse and agricultural annexes in Touzim in the Czech Republic has enabled Pawson to create a communion between the old and the new, between memory and life, through a process of construction by the monks themselves, which has brought about a successful identification between the monastic community and the space that welcomes it.
Finally, it must be mentioned that this is the first Catholic monastery to be built in a former Communist country, with all the symbolic meaning that this presupposes and the difficulty in realizing it with an uncommon mastery of proportion.