She has been the first woman in the position of the architecture department for the Venice Biennale in 2010 and, together with architect and co-worker Ryue Nishizawa, she won the Prizker Prize.
The two architects founded the architectural firm SANAA in Tokyo in 1995 and until these days, they build up a consistent brand image that reflects their minimalistic and geometrical architectures.
Kazuyo Sejima’s designs are characterized by an innovative vision of space and perception where the main element is light, natural light.
The beauty and uniqueness of her works lies in the subtle and clean addition of modern technologies and natural materials and environments. The final result is bright and floating spaces that unify the visual perception of interior and exterior.
The pantheistic essence of her designs carry a sense of freedom. No wonder many commissioned projects involve art and learning centers, where the main goal of the space is to set mind and soul free.
This concept is perfectly illustrated by the design of the 2009’s Serpentine Gallery’s Pavilion in London. The Pavillion is a modern open space in a Park where the modern appearance is perfectly melting with the nature. Kazuyo and Ryue described the Pavilion as “floating aluminum, drifting freely between the trees like smoke. The reflective canopy
undulates across the site, expanding the park and sky. Its appearance changes according to the weather, allowing it to melt into the surroundings. It works as a field of activity with no walls, allowing uninterrupted view across the park and encouraging access from all
sides. It is a sheltered extension of the park where people can read, relax and enjoy lovely summer days”.
The goal of this project was to reflect the spirit of Serpentine Gallery and serve as an inspiring space for art and performances but also to be perfectly integrated in the environment. The fact that the Pavilion is build in a Park inspired both architects to enhance the concept of “Park” as an open and free democratized social center. In this case, Sejima did not use walls but even in bigger projects, such as the New Art Museum in New York, build in 2007 she was able to build on following an organic adaptation to the environment.
The original architecture is outstanding but not eccentric, it is a composition of different white boxes that grow in hight creating an dynamic shape. The design process of shifting boxes enables each section of the building to get natural light. What is very important about light in Sejima’s designs is that nature and time constantly mutate the internal environment, linking people to the flow of time.The interiors are purely white with modern details and lightening, though the gray concrete floors add a raw touch to the modern environment.
Kazuyo Sejima integretes the same simplistic aesthetic of galleries and museums also to private homes. For example in the project Sejo Town houses in Tokyo, the designer designed a residential network of 20 townhouses in different geometrical shapes as a smart solution to create a calm and integrated residence despite the city’s big demographic growth. The houses are all different but they share the same white color that makes the whole complex look harmonic. Geometrical shapes, detox from aggressive colors and emptiness perfectly reflect the Sejma’s approach.
Serpentine Gallery Pavillion
Park as a definition of freedom, uniformed shape
Louvre Museum Lens
New York 2007