Why is Chris Precht One of the Most Popular Young Architects Today?

mausam jamwal

07 mins read

March 31

As a designer, I often avoid casual discourse regarding architecture and design, especially when it comes to famous architects and their philosophies. While their work must certainly be great to get noticed, most starchitects cannot pause their relationship with capitalism long enough to focus what the world truly needs from architecture. So, when I came across the work of a young architect known as Chris Precht, I was pleasantly surprised.

Chris Precht; (Source: www.precht.at)

A New Voice

Precht represents a new generation of top architecture firms who recognize the urgent need of architecture to respond to the increasing ecological imbalances across the planet caused by the excesses of humanity. Building unsustainably is simply not an option anymore, and his work is a testament to that. Over the short span of his career, together with his studio team, he has explored resilience and self-sufficiency in architecture, low-impact building technologies, and the relationship of buildings with food production.


The Farmhouse’ by Precht, a modular stacked system made of CLT, encouraging self-sufficiency and reconnecting people with their food; (Source: www.precht.at)

Older generations had their chance. It’s now on us – young creatives worldwide – to change course and create the future we want to live in.

The Story of Chris Precht

Originally from Austria, Precht established his firm Penda in collaboration with fellow architect and partner, Fei Tang Precht; and friend Sun Dayong in Beijing in 2013, where they worked for a few years before downsizing and relocating to the mountains of Salzburg in 2017. This conscious move from a behemoth city to an isolated area is the first deviation from the traditional path expected of the success story of a famous architect. Why shift base from an area with maximum potential clientele while establishing your design practice? Precht’s reasons speak of a no-nonsense professional ethic and maturity rarely found in the competitive field of design.

We believe the ‘era of the ego’ is over, the era of the Star-Architect is over. The future is in collaboration and in trying to connect to people outside our industry.

What makes him different?

The Prechts systemically reject the notion of architecture as a slave to capitalism, only undertaking projects which they’re passionate about, as opposed to profitable ones. This model is sustained by keeping a small team (Chris even does most of his renders himself) and living a minimal, self-sufficient life. Working in the mountains has the additional benefit of being free of urban distractions and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.


Living the mountain life; (Source: www.precht.at)

Precht believes in being accessible to a wide, diverse range of young architects and creative professionals, which has manifested in a vast social media following. Through one of his regular Q&A sessions with his followers, we know that he wakes up (really) early to go through the less pleasant aspects of work first (emails, accounts, etc) so that they don’t bother him through the workday. He then takes a walk through the mountainside and returns to work, which involves everything from design conceptualization to modeling and rendering. However, Precht Studio does not believe in overtime and reserves the evenings for family and other pursuits. This balanced approach is a key part of their work philosophy.

Studio Precht’s low-key operations have nevertheless made them one of the top architecture firms today, considering the short span of their practice. They have been selected as the ‘Emerging Firm of the Year’ at the 2016 Architizer Awards, ranked first on Archipreneuers ‘Best Architectural Start-ups’ in 2017 and are in ‘Dezeen’s Hotlist’ of Best Architects Worldwide.

Designing with a foot on the ground

Precht believes that architects today are faced with the greatest challenge in history: of reversing climate change. Therefore, he feels that collective action takes priority over the ‘designerly’ and intellectual rhetoric of exclusion that architecture has employed over the past century. Even more urgently, he says, the conversations regarding architecture need to include the common man to create more informed clients and for people to recognize the critical role of architecture in re-establishing our ecological connect. He also maintains that the built environment needs to be an active tool in the give-and-take of sustainable communities, forming a vital component of processes like food production. For such reasons and many more, Precht has emerged as a leading advocate for construction with timber, bamboo, and CLT for their renewability and structural advantages.

We are a generation of architects that actually builds, not for fictional stories, but for an objective reality.


Bambau and Bamboo City, a part of an ongoing research effort by Studio Precht to use and re-use bamboo as a construction material, and to come up with innovative construction techniques around it; (Source: www.resite.org)

His message to future famous architects? Don’t burn yourselves out. He believes that architecture is a marathon, fuelled by passion and creativity, and it needs to be supported by a wholesome life outside of work for us to truly be able to play the long game.

Precht’s vision for architecture could transform the common perception of buildings: from massive resource guzzlers to almost sentient structures that become an unassuming, beneficial part of life processes between nature and living communities. The matter-of-fact philosophies that he espouses resonate with many young architects across the world – giving rise to a new generation of designers determined to address our global reality.


A Thousand Yards Pavilion; (Source: www.precht.at)

Since we make a vital part of this new generation, if these values resonate with you, take a look at Novatr’s catalogue of online design courses and upskill yourself to the future of design that Chris Precht personifies.

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