Kazuyo Sejima (妹島 和世, Sejima Kazuyo, born 29 October 1956) is a Japanese architect. She is known for designs with clean modernist elements such as slick, clean, and shiny surfaces made of glass, marble, and metals. She also uses squares and cubes, which can be found in her designs in various degrees. Large windows allow natural light to enter a space and create a fluid transition between interior and exterior. It is this connection of two spaces from which she draws her inspiration.
Kazuyo Sejima, along with and Ryue Nishizawa, has worked on several projects in Germany, Switzerland, France, England, the Netherlands, United States, and Spain. Many of their designs like the Rolex Learning Center at EPFL the New Museum in the Bowery District in New York City as well as the Glass Pavilion for the Toledo Museum of Art involve glass and public open space to interact with the world around the architecture. Such design elements can be found abundantly in their designs.
In 2010, Sejima was the second woman to receive the Pritzker Prize, which was awarded jointly with Ryue Nishizawa.
Early life and education
Sejima was born on 29 October 1956 in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. In 1981, after graduating from Japan Women's University with a master's degree in Architecture, she joined Toyo Ito and Associates.
After apprenticing with Toyo Ito, Sejima established Kazuyo Sejima & Associates in 1987. One of her first hires was Ryue Nishizawa, a student who had worked with Sejima at Toyo Ito and Associates. After working for Sejima for several years, Sejima asked him to form a partnership. In 1995, the two founded the Tokyo-based firm SANAA (Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates). In 2010, Sejima was appointed director of architecture sector for the Venice Biennale, which she curated for the 12th Annual International Architecture Exhibition. She was the first woman ever selected for this position. In 2010, she was awarded the Pritzker Prize, together with Ryue Nishizawa.
When describing Sejima's work, a viewer would notice that she mostly uses glass in all of her work. She likes slick surfaces such as marble, and her buildings mainly display an arrange of curves within the architecture of the building as well as on the surface. Kazuyo successfully combines the building with the surrounding areas. The use of a lot of sheer glasses and clear glass is used, allowing for a person to look at the outdoors, while also looking at themselves and the reflections the outside world creates on the inside of the building.
Sejima intentionally overturns outmoded stereotypical housing models as they are based on assumptions instead of reality. These assumptions include housing models that illustrate the proper living condition for a nuclear family, etc. Her idea is not to initiate a complete rejection to tradition, but rather to challenge the conventional process of design. Instead of unconsciously applying assumptions to a design, she tries to confront them consciously as best as she can. She thinks it is impossible to let a building completely based on a fictional idea or theory of what something should be.
Projects by Kazuyo Sejima and Associates
- Platform I Vacation House – 1987 to 1988 – Chiba Prefecture, Japan
- Platform II Studio – 1988 to 1990 – Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan
- Platform III House (Not built/project only) – 1989 to 1990 – Tokyo, Japan
- Castelbajac Sports Store – 1990 to 1991 – Kanagawa, Japan
- Saishunkan Seiyaku Women's Dormitory – 1990 to 1991 – Kumamoto, Japan
- N House – 1990 to 1992 – Kumamoto, Japan
- An Apartment Building (Not built/project only) – 1991 – Osaka, Japan
- Nasumoahara Harmony Hall (Not built/project only) – 1991 – Tochigi, Japan
- Pachinko Parlor I – 1991 to 1993 – Ibaraki, Japan
- Villa in the Forest – 1992 to 1994 – Nagano, Japan
- Pachinko Parlor II – 1993 – Ibaraki, Japan
- Y House – 1993 to 1994 – Chiba, Japan
- Police box outside Chofu Station – 1993 to 1994 – Tokyo, Japan
- Service Center at the Tokyo Expo 96 (Not built/project only) – 1994 to 1995 – Tokyo, Japan
- Yokohama International Port Terminal (Not built/project only) – 1994 – Kanagawa, Japan
- Gifu Kitagata Apartment Building – 1994 to 2000 – Gifu, Japan
- Pachinko Parlor III – 1995 to 1996 – Ibaraki, Japan
- U Office Building – 1996 to 1998 – Ibaraki, Japan
- Small House – 1999 to 2000 – Tokyo, Japan
- Kozankaku Student Residence – 1999 to 2000 – Ibaraki, Japan
- hhstyle.com Store – 1999 to 2000 – Tokyo, Japan
- Asahi Shimbun Yamagata Office Building – 2000 to 2002 – Yamagata, Japan
- House in a Plum Grove – 2001 to 2003 – Tokyo, Japan
- Onishi Civic Center – 2003 to 2005 – Gunma, Japan
- Theater and Artscentre- 2007 – Almere, The Netherlands
- New Museum - 2010- New York City, United States
- Shibaura House - 2011 - Tokyo, Japan
- Louvre-Lens - 2012 - Lens, France
- Grace Farms - 2015 - 365 Lukes Wood Rd, New Canaan, CT 06840, United States
- Sumida Hokusai Museum - 2016 - Tokyo, Japan
- New limited express trains for Seibu Railway, 2018, Japan
Honors and recognition
- 1988 - Kashima Prize, SD Review 1988 (for Platform I, Platform II)
- 1989 - Yoshioka Prize, The Japan Architect (for Platform I)
- 1992 - Young Architect of the Year, Japan Institute of Architects (for Saishunkan Seiyaku Women’s Dormitory)
- 1994 - Grand Prize, Commercial Space Design Award ’94 (for Pachinko Parlor I, Pachino Parlor II)
- 1995 - Kenneth F. Brown Asia Pacific Culture and Architecture Award, University of Hawaii (for Saishunkan Seiyaku Women’s Dormitory)
- 2006 - Minister of Education’s Art Encouragement Prize, Tokyo, Japan
- 2006 - Japan Architecture Award (for House in Plum Grove)
- 2007 - International Fellowship of RIBA/Royal Institute of British Architects
- 2009 - StellaRe Prize, Turin, Italy
- 2009 - Erna Hamburger Prize, Lausanne, Switzerland
- 2009 - Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France
- 1998 – Prize of Architectural Institute of Japan, Tokyo, Japan (for Multimedia Workshop, Ogaki, Gifu)
- 2000 – Erich Schelling Architecture Prize, Kalsruhe, Germany
- 2002 – Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture, American Academy of Arts & Letters, New York
- 2002 – Architecture Award of Salzburg Vincenzo Scamozzi, Salzburg, Austria
- 2004 – Golden Lion for the Most Remarkable Work in the Exhibition Metamorph in the 9th International Architecture Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia
- 2005 – 46th Mainichi Newspapers Arts Award, Architecture Category (for 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa)
- 2005 – Rolf Schock Prize in Visual Arts, Sweden
- 2006 – Prize of Architectural Institute of Japan, Tokyo, Japan (for 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa)
- 2007 – Premio Mario Pani 2007 (Mario Pani Award), Mexico City, Mexico
- 2007 – Kunstpreis Berlin (Berlin Art Prize), Berlin, Germany
- 2010 – Pritzker Architecture Prize 2010, U.S.A.
Sejima teaches as a Visiting Professor, both at Tama Art University and Japan Women's University in Tokyo. From 2005 to 2008, together with Nishizawa, she held the Jean Labatut Professorship at the School of Architecture at Princeton University, where she also served on the advisory council for several years. Kazuyo Sejima has also taught at the Polytechnique de Lausanne and Keio University.