“I have a dream that architecture can bring something to contemporary society. Architecture is how people meet in space.”
In a bold world, Kazuyo Sejima whispered her way through subtlety in design. Born in the Ibaraki region of Japan in 1956 Kazuyo Sejima is a notable figure in the Japanese architecture community. Based in Tokyo she is the co-founder of the prestigious firm SANAA (Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates) along with Ryue Nishizawa. After completion of her master’s degree in 1981, she joined Toyo Ito and Associates until 1987. This is where she came in contact with Ryue who later on became her partner in establishing SANAA. One of the very few women who have been able to break the glass ceiling, she has carved a unique identity for herself through her minimal and thoughtful design. Only the second woman recipient of the prestigious Pritzker award and the first woman appointed director of the 12th Venice Biennale, Sejima has many such achievements under her belt.
Ideologies and Philosophy
In the land of Japan’s dichotomic architecture where the old and new exist simultaneously Kazuyo Sejima belongs to the class of new architects who challenged traditions and preconceived notions instead of downright rejecting them. A believer in the fact that the uniqueness of architecture lies in its relationship with its environment, Sejima’s craft retains fluidity and blurs the line between architecture and environment. Kazuya’s style is characterized by the use of strong shapes and clean lines. Her ideology stems from the creation of open-ended structures whose completion is left to the imaginative minds of the inhabitants.
“Use in building is a very creative thing and can be developed by many people.”
Her designs seek to create a relation between the outdoor and the indoor by creating open structures and not minutely planned ones.
“As an architect, I feel it is a part of our profession to use space as a medium to express our thoughts.”
Sejima redefines the “design process” as “process design” as it is the accumulation of several ideas rather than a single one.
Her projects seem to consider the social use of the space and its ability to adapt. She truly believes that architecture should be the meeting point of people and takes inspiration from site surroundings in the selection of material and shapes
Established in 1995 SANAA is an internationally acclaimed architecture studio that seems to be always pushing the envelope of contemporary architecture and how we perceive it by reimagining traditional spaces. The apparent simplicity and rigid-delicate architecture have been able to set the firm apart. Known for designing projects that deal with space in between as opposed to space within, the design studio clearly defines its relation with nature. The design studio has been able to create a new dialogue in post-war Japan by use of minimal, transparent, non-hierarchical architectural vocabulary. Transparency is achieved not only in terms of visual transparency but also in concept. The use of large openings in the form of windows creates a fluid transition between the indoor and the outdoor where the barriers dissolve and the outdoor is not separated.
Iconic projects include Rolex Learning center in Switzerland, Serpentine Pavilion, New Museum of Contemporary art in New York,Louver-lens France.
SANAA extensively uses glass and white color in their design. They explain the importance of using white in their design as an attempt to bring in and diffuse light in the interior space
At present Sejima teaches as a visiting faculty at Tama Art University and Japan Women’s University in Tokyo. Even at 65 years of age, Kazuyo Sejima seems to be as youthful as before charming the world with her simplicity.