When Wang Shu officially receives the Pritzker Architecture Prize on Friday, it will be a groundbreaking moment for the Zhejiang architect and Ningbo. Wang's winning architecture and many renowned buildings are located in the city. Wang won the industry's highest accolade with the Ningbo Historic Museum, while he also designed the city's Contemporary Art Museum, the Historic Museum and the upcoming Contemporary Art Museum on the Dock. As Thomas Pritzker said in announcing the selection of Wang, 48, the decision to choose a relatively unknown Chinese architect with a slim portfolio was intended to celebrate 'the role that China will play in the development of architectural ideals'. 'Wang's work is known for embracing the human element of imperfection in the construction process, giving his buildings a grittiness and warmth absent in many contemporary buildings,' says Blaine Brownell, a principal of the Transstudio architecture practice and an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota school of architecture. Wang designed the Ningbo History Museum in line with his belief that buildings house people's experiences and memories. 'The construction materials literally are the memories: recycled building materials from torn-down buildings,' according to Daan Roggeveen, a Shanghai-based architect and co-founder of the Go West Project, which launched the book How the City Moved to Mr Sun: China's New Megacities. The visible handicraft of the workers on Wang's buildings takes large-scale works and imbues them with a human scale, according to Brownell. 'The striking evidence of the human hand endows these enormous buildings, which could easily become oppressive and institutional, with personality, character and warmth.' Wang's work is well-known in China, through his recycling of local materials. 'The low cost of labour is a critical element that enables the richness conveyed by Wang's building fa?ades,' Brownell notes. A similar method of employing craftsmen to hand-fashion recycled materials might well be beyond the budget of a building in the West. This mode of architecture bridges the gap between physical buildings and the people who pass through their walls. 'His approach makes his buildings truly public, since visitors feel they relate to these places - a crucial thing in public buildings and something not happening often in contemporary China,' Roggeveen says. 'Clients suddenly see that good architecture is appreciated and, therefore, has value,' Roggeveen says. In the opinion of Brownell, the award adds validity to westerners' appreciation of Chinese architects, who also include Ma Qingyun and Chang Yungho, a member of the Pritzker prize selection committee. The prize may also inspire mainland cities to rethink the pell-mell replacement of older buildings with massive anodyne structures. 'His architecture stands for fine-meshed, sensible designs that relate to context and history, and the jury of the Pritzker Prize likely wants to stimulate this way of urban development in China,' Roggeveen says.