IE University at the Pritzker Architecture Prize

Written on May 19, 2010 by Roberto Arribas in Architecture

Martha Thorne is Associate Dean of IE School of Arquitecture y and Executive Director of the Pritzker Architecture Prize since 2005. There is no one better than her to explain who are the architects awarded and why the jury honored them with the prize.

For further information, please contact architecture@ie.edu

1.      Who are Sejima y Nishizawa?

In 1995, Kazuyo Sejima (born in 1956) and Ryue Nishizawa (born in 1966) founded SANAA, the Tokyo architecture studio that has designed innovative buildings in Japan and around the world. Examples of their, groundbreaking work include, among others, the Rolex Learning Center in Lausanne, Switzerland; the Toledo Museum of Art’s Glass Pavilion in Toledo, Ohio; the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, NY: the Serpentine Pavilion in London; the Christian Dior Building in Omotesando in Tokyo; and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa. The latter won the Golden Lion in 2004 for the most significant work in the Ninth International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale.

2.      Why were they awarded?

According to the jury, they were awarded with the Pritzker Prize for several different reasons. Their architecture is “simultaneously delicate and powerful, precise and fluid, ingenious but not overly or overtly clever”. Also, “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 and for their notable completed buildings and the promise of new projects together”

3.      ¿Qué representan estos premios en el mundo de la Arquitectura?

I think they represent a new generation of architects that seek the essence of architecture. It is a quite cerebral architecture, sometimes even very hard to comprehend at first sight. But right now, when current thinking is based on easy publicity and superficial messages, this architecture is refreshing and authentic. I think it can also be an inspiration for young architects, not just to copy this exact trend in architectural design but rather than to value the process and the possibility to find you own way.

4.      Finally, what works by these architects do you recommend to a student of the Bachelor in Architecture?

The two closest works from Madrid are the Rolex Learning Center in Lausane, Switzerland and Zollverein School of Management and Design in Essen, Germany. It is interesting the fact that these two buildings are academic institutions for students. Nonetheless, the first one has a vertical approach; meanwhile the second has a horizontal one that leads to an innovative contrast.


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