Key projects by SANAA

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Here's a selection of projects by Japanese architects SANAA, who have been named 2010 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureates (see our earlier story).

Top: Ryue Nishizawa and Kazuyo Sejima of SANAA. Photo by Takashi Okamoto.
Above: The Rolex Learning Center, Ecole Polytechnique Federale Lausanne, Switzerland (EPFL) - 2009. See our earlier story.

The award will be presented at a ceremony in New York on 17 May.

See all our stories about SANAA in our special category.

Above: The Rolex Learning Center, Ecole Polytechnique Federale Lausanne, Switzerland (EPFL) - 2009.

Photographs are by Hisao Suzuki unless otherwise stated. All images are courtesy of SANAA. Captions are provided by the architects.


Above: The Rolex Learning Center, Ecole Polytechnique Federale Lausanne, Switzerland (EPFL) - 2009.

The following information is from the architects:


Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, partners in the architectural firm, SANAA, have been chosen as the 2010 Laureates of the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Above: The Rolex Learning Center, Ecole Polytechnique Federale Lausanne, Switzerland (EPFL) - 2009.

The formal ceremony for what has come to be known throughout the world as architecture’s highest honor will be held on May 17 on historic Ellis Island in New York. At that time, a $100,000 grant and bronze medallions will be bestowed on the two architects.

Above: Floor Plan, Rolex Learning Center, Ecole Polytechnique Federale Lausanne, Switzerland (EPFL) - 2009.

In announcing the jury’s choice, Thomas J. Pritzker, chairman of The Hyatt Foundation, elaborated, “This marks the third time in the history of the prize that two architects have been named in the same year.

Above: The Rolex Learning Center, Ecole Polytechnique Federale Lausanne, Switzerland (EPFL) - 2009.

The first was in 1988 when Oscar Niemeyer of Brazil and the late Gordon Bunshaft were so honored, and the second was in 2001, when Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, partners in a Swiss firm, were selected.”

Above: New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York City, New York - 2007. See our earlier story.

He continued, “Japanese architects have been chosen three times in the thirty year history of the Pritzker Architecture Prize — the first was the late Kenzo Tange in 1987, then in 1993, Fumihiko Maki was selected, and in 1995, Tadao Ando was the honoree.”

Above: New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York City, New York - 2007.

The purpose of the Pritzker Architecture Prize is to honor annually a living architect whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture.

Above: New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York City, New York - 2007.

Pritzker Prize jury chairman, The Lord Palumbo quoted from the jury citation to focus on this year’s selection: “For architecture that is simultaneously delicate and powerful, precise and fluid, ingenious but not overly or overtly clever; for the creation of buildings that successfully interact with their contexts and the activities they contain, creating a sense of fullness and experiential richness; for a singular architectural language that springs from a collaborative process that is both unique and inspirational; for their notable completed buildings and the promise of new projects together, Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa are the recipients of the 2010 Pritzker Architecture Prize.”

Above: DeKunstlinie Theater and Cultural Center - Almere, Netherlands - 2007.

Upon learning that she was being honored, Kazuyo Sejima had this reaction: “I am thrilled to receive such an honor. I would like to thank the Pritzker (Hyatt) foundation, the jury members, the clients who have worked with us, and all of our collaborators.

Above: DeKunstlinie Theater and Cultural Center - Almere, Netherlands - 2007.

I have been exploring how I can make architecture that feels open, which I feel is important for a new generation of architecture. With this prize I will continue trying to make wonderful architecture.” And a similar reaction from Ryue Nishizawa: “I receive this wonderful prize with great humility.

Above: Zollverein School of Management and Design, Essen, Germany - 2006.

I am very honored and at the same time very surprised. I receive and understand this prize as encouragement for our efforts. Every time I finish a building I revel in possibilities and at the same time reflect on what has happened.Each project becomes my motivation for the next new project.

Above: Zollverein School of Management and Design, Essen, Germany - 2006.

In the same way this wonderful prize has given me a dynamic energy that I have never felt before. I thank you very much.

Above: Zollverein School of Management and Design, Essen, Germany - 2006.

”The distinguished jury that selected the 2010 Laureates consists of its chairman, Lord Palumbo, internationally known architectural patron of London, chairman of the trustees, Serpentine Gallery, former chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain, former chairman of the Tate Gallery Foundation, and former trustee of the Mies van der Rohe Archive at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and alphabetically: Alejandro Aravena, architect and executive director of Elemental in Santiago, Chile;

Above: Glass Pavilion, Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio - 2006.

Rolf Fehlbaum, chairman of the board of Vitra in Basel, Switzerland; Carlos Jimenez, professor, Rice University School of Architecture, principal, Carlos Jimenez Studio in Houston, Texas; Juhani Pallasmaa, architect, professor and author of Helsinki, Finland; Renzo Piano, architect and Pritzker Laureate, of Paris, France and Genoa, Italy; and Karen Stein, writer, editor and architectural consultant in New York.

Above: Glass Pavilion, Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio - 2006.

Martha Thorne, associate dean for external relations, IE School of Architecture, Madrid, Spain, who is executive director of the prize, augmented the jury citation, saying, “The architecture of Sejima and Nishizawa explores the ideas of lightness and transparency and pushes the boundaries of these concepts to new extremes.”

Above: Glass Pavilion, Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio - 2006.

The field of architecture was chosen by the Pritzker family because of their keen interest in building due to their involvement with developing the Hyatt Hotels around the world; also because architecture was a creative endeavor not included in the Nobel Prizes.

Above: Glass Pavilion, Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio - 2006.

The procedures were modeled after the Nobels, with the final selection being made by the international jury with all deliberations and voting in secret. Nominations are continuous from year to year with hundreds of nominees from countries all around the world being considered each year.

Above: Floor Plan, Glass Pavilion, Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio - 2006.

Above: Naoshima Ferry Terminal Naoshima, Kagawa, Japan - 2006.

Above: Naoshima Ferry Terminal Naoshima, Kagawa, Japan - 2006.

Above: 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan - 2004. Photo by SANAA

Above: 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan - 2004.

Above: 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan - 2004.

Above: 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan - 2004.

Above: Christian Dior Building, Omotesando Tokyo, Japan - 2003.

Above: Christian Dior Building, Omotesando Tokyo, Japan - 2003.

Above: O-Museum Iida, Nagano Japan - 1999.

Above: O-Museum Iida, Nagano Japan - 1999.

  • http://www.jackiehawkins.com.au Jackie Hawkins

    Superb freshness in approach

  • happygo

    I felt a little dissapointed by the Dior building. But the rest is quite beautiful, the residences especially so. The design process seems so coherent and never leans towards the material overkill/fetishism of some Japanese architects (though it is wrong to group by nationality)
    Just as long as they dont design any more chairs.

  • amelia

    Way to go, SANAA ! Love your work ! You guys rock !

  • modular

    Well deserved. Congratulations!

  • angry catalan

    They have better buildings! And where are Sejima’s houses?

    @ happygo: ahahahaha, rabbit chair

  • http://www.elianatomas.blogspot.com Space by Eliana Tomas

    i’m so happy they won.
    well deserved, indeed!

  • gab xiao

    Pritzker Foundations shows a truly keen eye on awarding SANAA this year! Their projects – some may be years old – are fresh and of an utter elegance, devoid of any formal gesture.

    There is a certain poetry (social maybe?) that comes out of their architectural space that I actually enjoy.

  • Hars

    I love you sanaa,
    And if it’s quite alright,
    I need you sanaa,
    To warm a lonely night.
    I love you sanaa.
    Trust in me when I say:
    Oh, pretty sanaa,
    Don’t bring me down, I pray.
    Oh, pretty baby, now that I found you, stay
    And let me love you sanaa.
    Let me love you.

  • bibendum

    happygo, who do you f…think you are?

    Who cares about your disappointment? Who f… cares about your comment for Sanaa's chairs?

    What is the point of all that garbage anyway if you can't event process an idea?

    This is so frustrating, the more I read this amazing blog the more I get disappointed by people's reactions.

    There is almost not an inch of intelligence in most of the comments, not a trace of intellectual formulation, zero critical dialectic, just a wasteland of infatuated ego and stupid arrogance, typical of young freshly graduated architects….

    There is no respect, just brutal arrogance and no brain, and stupid emotional behavior…

    No wonder why architects are so discredited…we are doom to failure.

  • Sarah

    OMG! SANAA are liek sooo kewl and there buildings r nice and white.

  • happygo

    wow bibendum
    quite a reaction to someone’s honest, balanced, not at all critical comments.
    Let me elaborate for you regarding my disappointment:
    I, like I assume you do though you do not stop ranting to say, enjoy Sanaa’s work greatly. And it was in this spirit that I visited the Dior store, only to find, as is so often the case with these types of buildings, particularly in Tokyo, that the architects building is reality a shell, an object with which a brand advertises itself and fills with its standard fittings (not the case with prada, but with most) this was my disappointment.

    The reason for comments, and the potential value of them is to discuss with people, for and against and others not yet decided.

    Not all comments will be negative, not all comments will be positive. That is open debate on an open forum that has the potential to be a place for diverse discourse on wonderfully diverse works.

    Please don’t shout people into a silence when they express something you don’t agree with. Or express a thought that is not 100% blindly positive.

    Architecture has always been a place of fierce debate and side taking, though mine was not an example of such. The profession of the architect is fueled by ideals and agenda. Comment is not the doom of architecture now, as it never has been before.

    Please, bibendum, and any others, feel free to comment.

  • snuffaluffagus

    …speaking of arrogance.

    I for one, am also unhappy and allowed to be. SANAA has mastered regressive modernism. What makes their backward ultra pure formalism appropriate to any of our current conditions? I can see them as great artists, but not great architects, which I’m afraid, is all too common today.

  • oh yeah

    i don’t think bibendum has used the internet before.

  • Andy

    Somebody got up on the wrong side of the bed…

    The internet is serious business.

  • http://www.architectureplus.co.nz fog

    deserving winners, but…
    is anyone wondering, like me if Steven Holl will ever be a recipient?

  • alex

    To those who discredit SANAA’s accomplishment which was gained through their focused practice and hard work:
    Stop writing, build something significant, get published, gain recognition, and then, and only then, if you have time to blog with sense, dare say something of real value.
    To build a portfolio of SANAA’s caliber requires at least some respect to the art and craft of architecture. Their work has depth and pushes the boundaries that most architects feel comfortable with.
    Cheers to SANAA and their Pritzker!

  • Sean

    Surprising. Personally, I’m not convinced they are as deserving as some other great architects that haven’t won yet. Granted, I’ve only been in/seen one of their buildings in person. The new museum in NYC. Shockingly this project was terrible on the inside, space planning, electrical and day lighting, quality of construction/finishes were not nearly close to those of other pritzker architects.

  • http://www.tcdc.or.th Anunta Intra-aksorn

    SANAA creates friendly space as people appreciated Art in New Museum, Big Apple. Great look of open building Zollverein School in Germany. Amaze wtih Glass Pavilion. I love the most simply O-Museum Iida. Also playful rabbit chairs in in London’s Hyde park > Serpentine Gallery!

  • http://www.twitter.com/marmi09 Erico Marmiroli

    Omedeto, Ryue Nishizawa and Kazuyo Sejima, you deserve it
    I remember helping Nishizawa-san during some interviews here in Brazil, in 2008, during the art exhibition at MAM-SP
    Best regards

  • hugo

    correction, i dont think bibendum has ever read and internet forum before.

    forgive us, almighty bibendum!

    we are not worthy!

  • ChenShen

    This duo must be the “coolest” architects to have won the Pritzker prize. It is good that Pritzker is beginning to award the prize to younger architects. Nothing inspire young aspiring architects more than knowing that the revered Pritzker prize is afterfall not that unreachable.

  • m

    Like last year, a very deserved winner.

  • modular

    bibendum are you high on crack?

  • tanya telford – T

    congratulations to SANNAA, im fascinated by their work and hope to find some time to read more indepth about them, (& i agree with m above),

  • http://www.archzk.com 小五

    祝贺!

  • http://www.gebaracad.com JP

    Congrats

  • bibendum

    Thank you Happygo, I really appreciate your comment, and I do totally agree with you, Sanaa has done a weak building with the Dior shop, and I share with you the same respect for the Prada store in Omotesando. I would classify Ito’s building for Todds in the same category as the Prada one : amazing shell, amazing space and new ways of shopping.

    Internet has become a sewage for people unable to formulate an interesting idea in the real world.
    You think I have never been on a forum? I think you were born when internet went sour.
    Internet is a mirror of the world, a consensual illusion…and it has become a nightmare.
    Would you talk to your colleague like you defecate your opinion in this forum?
    Would you open your mouth full of garbage in front of Sanaa in a conference?
    Of course not.
    Every forum on the internet, after less than 15 years of existence ,have become cesspit for insults and endless stupidity. The dreams of the Cyber-fathers are gone.

    Free internet does not mean freedom to insult and degrade other people’s work.

    Please respect each others, and let’s debate about architecture.

  • 7osa

    u deserve it SANAA keep it up guys :))))

  • http://the-fake-sartorialist.blogspot.com/ The Fake Sartorialist

    wow, you kind of end up forgetting the amount of really good buildings SANAA has made. They deserve this prize very much.

  • http://www.spyridis.gr Ioannis Spyridis

    congratulations good work!!!

  • gozzillo

    I like those projects. But their faces are white as their buildings. They are not so ‘situationists’ , their ‘modus operandi’ could be incorporated in the big ensemble of the ‘archistar modus operandi’ . I am Sanaa , I do this kind of architecture. Anyway, elegant

  • ADS

    This is a forum, anyone can share the way they feel about anything.

    Bibendum I know the way you feel, with so much knowledge, experience and years of practice you have not been recognized, and this creative and smart guys at SANAA are bagging the pritzker, we all know life is not fair.

    Look inward Bibendum and get creative never too late.

  • http://www.studio-ao.com JohnDop

    It sure looks poor at the outside of the DIOR building.

    have anyone looked inside?

    the interior is wonder’full’

  • k

    I REALLY want to go visit the EPFL learning center.

  • Ayham

    SANAA definitely deserve it. Congratulations!

  • laura skeeters

    SANAA deserves this award 100%. KUDOS!

    Like my teacher, Aldo Rossi, one time said to a collegue professor that was criticizing his work:

    “It is always so easy to criticize whom that builds architecture.”
    Conference on Architecture – IUAV – Venice, November 1994

    Meaning that anybody that don’t build anything worthy should be humble enough to refrain themself from criticizing the ones that do.

    I don’t agree. I think a constructive dialog is possible no matter the mediators and the parties involved.

    Freedom of speech means both freedom to talk and trash and freedom to talk and praise.

    Still life – just talking…

  • peter van dam

    The buildings of Sannaa look great and impressive in the magazines. Looking at the interior design and speaking to the users we noticed rather sauer comments and disappointment…