Kazujo Sejima

Japanese architect, Kazujo Sejima 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.

Picture of Kazujo Sejima

Image source: https://www.archiportale.com/news/2010/05/architettura/le-riflessioni-di-kazuyo-sejima-people-meet-in-architecture_18803_3.html

Who Is Kazujo Sejima?

Kazujo Sejima was born in 1956 in the Prefecture of Ibaraki, Japan and in 1981, after studying at Japan Women’s University, she obtained a master’s degree.  Then she started working at the office of Toyo Ito and in 1987 she founded Kazuyo Sejima and Associates. In 1995, she founded the Tokyo-based firm SANAA (Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates) together with her former employee Ryue Nishizawa, an architecture studio that has designed innovative buildings in Japan and around the world. Nishizawa eventually started his own firm two years later, and Sejima maintained hers, but both individual offices were devoted to small-scale projects, in contrast to the ambitious commissions accepted by the partnership.


SANAA stands for Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates

Image source: http://architecturalinterviews.blogspot.com/2009/12/kazuyo-sejima-ryue-nishizawa-successes.html

In 2001, both Nishizawa and Sejima took up teaching posts, at Yokohama National University and Tokyo’s Keio University, respectively. About this time they also began to concentrate more on international commissions. In 2005, the pair was selected to design a new branch of the Louvre Museum in Lens, France; the institution opened in 2012. 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. And the same year, she was awarded the Pritzker Prize, together with Ryue Nishizawa. Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa have worked on several projects in Germany, France, England, the Netherlands, United States, and Spain.

Info source: https://www.stylepark.com/en/designer/kazuyo-sejima

About Sejima’s Most Famous Works

  • New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue
The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City, 2007

Image source: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Kazuyo-Sejima-and-Ryue-Nishizawa

The New Museum of Contemporary Art aims to be a home for contemporary art and an incubator of new ideas, as well as an architectural contribution to the urban landscape of New York. Sejima and Nishizawa, who received the commission in 2002, described the building as their response to history and the powerful personalities of the New Museum. The museum is a combination of elegance and urban planning and it stands 53 meters above the street level. The building consists of seven stacked rectangular boxes. SANAA has stacked them according to the needs and circulation patterns of the building users by producing a variety of open spaces, fluid and full of light, of different heights at all levels, with different characteristics but all without columns. The New Museum is covered with an anodized aluminum layer chosen by SANAA to emphasize the volumes of the boxes and “dress” the building with a delicate, transparent, soft and shiny skin. With windows visible only behind this porous surface (obtained using a material never used before for a facade of a building) the structure is visualized as a simple and coherent form, which is also dynamic, animated and changed according to the changing light of the day: an appropriate visual metaphor for the opening of the new museum and for the constantly evolving nature of contemporary art.
  • Sumida Hokusai Museum in Tokyo
Sumida Hokusai Museum, Photos © vincent hecht + archdaily

Image source: https://afasiaarchzine.com/2017/08/21-kazuyo-sejima/

It is designed by the Pritzker Prize for architecture Kazuyo Sejima, the Tokyo museum that celebrates the art of Katsushika Hokusai. Built inside the Midori-Cho park, in the neighborhood where the Japanese painter and engraver lived and worked, the Sumida Hokusai Museum marks a new landmark of the city (and is already in the Top 13 of Living of the archistar’s museums). The painter and engraver Hokusai, who lived between 1760 and 1849 and counted among the most famous Japanese artists on an international scale, returns to be an absolute protagonist of the place where he was born and operated. The SANAA duo formed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, winner of the Pritzker Prize in 2010, sign the museum complex. The new building is structured on four floors. The slightly reflecting metallic skin and the angular profile are designed to direct the light in the exhibition halls, where the artist’s work, which loved to portray the waves, is collected on permanent display. Aluminium panels lining the exterior have a mirrored quality that reflects the changing scenes of the surrounding downtown area. In addition to presenting to visitors the creations of the Master and his disciples, the Sumida Hokusai Museum will host temporary exhibitions and events aimed at expressing the link between the district and the artist.

Info source: http://living.corriere.it/city-guide/musei-gallerie/sumida-hokusai-museum-kazuyo-sejima/

The splits in the facade allow people on the outside of the museum to look in, while offering those inside views of the Tokyo skyline / Sumida Hokusai Museum

Image source: http://www.cladglobal.com/news.cfm?codeid=329796

What Are The Main Features Of Sejima’s Style?

Shibaura House, Kazuyo Sejima, SANAA

Image source: https://www.mimoa.eu/projects/Japan/Tokyo/Shibaura%20House/

Many of Sejima’s designs like the New Museum in the Bowery District in New York City as well as their Glass Pavilion for the Toledo Museum of Art involve glass and a space open to the world around it. Such design element can be found abundantly in their designs. Sejima creates her designs with clean modernist elements. They usually include slick, clean, and shiny surfaces made of glass, marble, and metals. She also likes to use squares and cubes, which can be found in her designs in various usages. Large windows allow natural light to enter a space, and make her space be involved with the world which is on the other side of the glass. It is this connection of two spaces from which she draws her inspirations. Her early designs already showed the poetic treatment of modern architectural materials and techniques that is the hallmark of her work. Features shared by all these projects include rigorously defined elementary spaces and volumes, and a penchant for glass, aluminium, metal mesh and sculptural surfaces.

Info source: http://www.dreamideamachine.com/en/?p=4180

Zollverein-Kubus, School of Management and Design (photo by Xavier de Jauréguiberry)

Image source: https://www.archdaily.com/54212/zollverein-school-of-management-and-design-sanaa

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