Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa/ SANAA


Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa have developed a solid international reputation based on their construction expertise and the aesthetic quality of their buildings, in whose apparent simplicity they eschew all ostentation. Their earliest projects immediately show their preference for the minimal based on a combination of elementary geometric volumes where, through the absence of weight, through flexibility and translucent qualities, they were aiming to establish new spatial hierarchies. The division of the program elements, their search for fluid circulations, the open spaces of patios that allow nature to penetrate the building, their approach to volume as a place of interaction as well as the evanescent quality of the skins are all characteristic of their constructions. In total contrast to spectacular architecture, SANAA’s “peaceful” buildings emphasize the physical and sensual experience: the way of entering and circulating around a building, the way of lighting, functional and spatial uncertainty, and the perfection of details constitute some of the many ways of orienting architecture towards the creation of atmospheres, the creation of an atmosphere of the vague and indefinite. This floating quality of space is further manifested by their quest for the thinnest possible walls. Laureate of the Pritzker Prize in 2010, among the firm’s most notable buildings are the Zollverein School in Germany (2006), the New Museum of Contemporary Art (2007), the Christian Dior store in Tokyo (2001-2004) and it is currently working on the Musée du Louvre-Lens (2005-2012).

Kazuyo Sejima (Mito,1956) studied at the Japan Women’s University, graduating in 1981, with a Master’s. Working first with Toyo Ito architects & associates (1981 to 1987), she earned her independence in 1987 and founded the SANAA (Sejima And Nishizawa And Associates) firm with Ryue Nishizawa in 1995, which remains the headquarters of their association. Ryue Nishizawa (Tokyo, 1966) studied at the Yokohama National University. In addition to his collaboration with Sejima, he maintains an independent practice with the creation in 1997 of the Office of Ryue Nishizawa. With SANAA, Ryue Nishizawa focuses almost exclusively on international competitions and public building projects, such as the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art (Kanazawa, 2004).  

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