ArchDaily had the privilege of attending the Pritzker Prize ceremony last night on historic Ellis Island as Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa were honored. Regarded as the highest honor bestowed upon an architect, the Pritzker Prize’s newest laureates were continually praised throughout the evening for their keen ability to teach us that what is not present can be as important as what is present.
As past laureates, such as Renzo Piano, Frank Gehry, Thom Mayne, Richard Meier, Jean Nouvel, and Rafael Moneo looked on, Lord Palumbo, chairman of the jury, discussed Sejima’s and Nishizawa’s work style; an intensively collaborative design process which is so balanced between the two minds that it is impossible to say which one of the pair is responsible for which architectural decision within a given project.
Although the two share similar philosophies when it comes to light, form and space, their differences create “all the possibilities”. Sejima explained that within SANAA, there are actually three firms: each has his/her own individual practice, yet come together to discuss and critique their work under the international firm SANAA. While some criticize this process as inefficient and confusing, Sejima replied, with a laugh, that the organization is simply how they like to work.
Over the past 15 years, Sejima and Nishizawa have created projects that offer users an experience within the environment. The team is known to constantly be pooling ideas that are then revised, discarded, and developed to form new approaches. SANAA’s work treads so lightly upon the land that it seems to be a “magical paradox where nothing seems to be happening, while everything is happening.”
During the ceremony, Sejima and Nishizawa were gracious and thoughtful, as the team thanked a variety of people who influenced their design process. The duo explained that being awarded the Pritzker offered a sense of encouragement and inspiration to continue to find innovative architectural solutions. Offering words of wisdom for the younger generation of architects, SANAA’s advice was simple yet meaningful and powerful, “practice and continue.”
We can be assured that Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa will follow their own words to continue doing what they do best.