How Much Do You Really Know About: Kazuyo Sejima

Kazuyo Sejima… One of the most successful WOMAN architect in the world, and also one of the most famous emerging architects from Japan! Everyone loves Japanese architecture, it is sensitive to the human scale, allowing light and playing with the senses. This is Seijma’s expertise. But… How much do YOU really know about her? Let’s put your knowledge to the TEST.

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Image credits: Archinect

Kazuyo Sejima is Japanese architect born on October 29, 1956 in Iberaki Prefecture, Japan. She got her master’s degree in architecture from Japan Women’s University in 1981 and set up her own practice in 1987 with the name Kazuyo Sejima & associates. Before then though, she worked around for some time, even working for a very famous Japanese architect.

Who did Kazuyo Sejima first work with?

A) Toyo Ito
B) Shigeru Ban
C) Kengo Kuma

Image credit: ArchDaily

A) Toyo Ito

Sejima worked in the design office of Toyo Ito. Sejima’s work soon earned national recognition and she even won award of Young Architect of the Year from the Japanese Institute of Architects in 1992. Sejima then turned her firm into…. A very famous partnership.

The partnership’s early projects were in Japan, notably the O-Museum (1995–99), on a mountainside in Nagano. As with much of the duo’s work, the museum’s design was an elegant synthesis of the cerebral and the lyrical, and the closeness of their collaboration precluded attempts to assign responsibility for each element. Another major commission was the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa (1999–2004), a circular building with a glass facade. It was heralded for its panoramic views of the surrounding city and for its unconventional nonlinear floor plan, which encouraged visitors to create their own random paths through the museum. This concern with a space’s social use and its potential for adaptation was a hallmark of their design philosophy.

What name did she turn her firm into after working alone for some time?

A) Ito & Sejima Architects
C) Atelier Bow-Wow


Sejima turned her firm into SANAA (Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates) in 1995 in collaboration with Ryue Nishizawa in Tokyo but right after two years both of them started pursuing their individual practices and Sejima started working on small scale projects.

Sejima’s major concern regarding any project has always been space’s social use and its potential for adaptation. Following this very philosophy Sejima doesn’t consider any project to be completed until its inhabitants put life into it with their activities. Moreover, her buildings are best known for their clean shinny surfaces. Sejima’s signature style comprises of her smooth surfaced and well organized buildings accompanied with modernist elements of time. Squares and cubes are her favorite shapes of choice and can be seen excessively in almost all of her designs. Sejima is a true believer of blending outdoor spaces with building’s interior, for this reason she always incorporates large windows in her buildings developing a visual connection between indoor and outdoor spaces. It is also said that most of the times Sejima takes inspiration from site and its surroundings before starting off any project.

Which material does she NOT use in her works?

A) Glass
B) Metal
C) Brick

Image Credit: Arcspace

C) Brick

Glass, marble, and metals are considered the pet materials used by her for almost all of her projects. Sejima has worked in many countries including Germany, France, England, the Netherlands, United States, and Spain. Kazuyo Sejima has also made great contributions as a professor of architecture starting her teaching career from Keio University, Tokyo. She has taught at Princeton University, the Polytechnique de Lausanne, and Tama Art University and is currently a visiting faculty at both Tama Art University and Japan Women’s University in Tokyo.

What was her first ever building in New York City?

A) The Guggenheim Museum
B) The MoMa
C) New Museum

Image credit: Britannica

C) New Museum

The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City, designed by the Japanese architecture firm SANAA (Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates) and opened in 2007. Attached to the facade is Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone's sculpture installation Hell, Yes! (2001). About this time they also began to concentrate more on international commissions. SANAA’s first completed large-scale project outside Japan was the cubelike Zollverein School of Management and Design (2003–06) in Essen, Germany. It was quickly followed by the Glass Pavilion at the Toledo (Ohio) Museum of Art (2001–06), a minimalist structure that, in its use of curved glass, quietly paid tribute to that city’s industrial history. Other notable international designs include those for the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City (2003–07), the De Kunstlinie Theatre and Cultural Centre in Almere, Netherlands (1998–07), and the Rolex Learning Center at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland (2005–09). In 2005 the pair was selected to design a new branch of the Louvre Museum in Lens, France; the institution opened in 2012.

What famous award has she won?

A) Venice Biennale Golden Lion
B) Pritzker Prize
C) Young Architect of the Year
D) All of the above

Image Credit: Archipel


SANAA's work was included in the exhibition City of Girls in the Japanese Pavilion at the 2000 Venice Biennale and in the Garden Cafe at the 7th International Istanbul Biennale, Istanbul, Turkey. Their work has also been exhibited at Zumtobel Staff-Lichtforum, Vienna, Austria; Institut Valencia d'Art Modern, Valencia, Spain; Zeche Zollverein, Essen, Germany; Gallery MA, Tokyo, Japan; N-museum, Wakayama, Japan and New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York. SANAA has been awarded the Golden Lion for the most remarkable work in the exhibition Metamorph in the 9th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia in 2004, the 46th Mainichi Shinbun Arts Award (Architecture Category) in 2005, and the Schock Prize in the visual arts, also in 2005. In 2010, Sejima and Nishizawa were awarded the Pritzker Prize, the highest of honours in architecture.

Image Credit: ZenVita

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