SANAA, an architectural practice headed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, is best known for its light, fluid forms that shun hierarchy and sit in harmonious relationship with their surroundings. Established in 1995, an early landmark project for SANAA was the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art
, Kanazawa (2004). The park-like, open space design has made it a popular destination for both tourists and locals alike. Other major works include De Kunstlinie Theatre and Cultural Centre, Almare
(Netherlands, 2006), New Museum of Contemporary Art
(USA, 2007), ROLEX Learning Center
(Switzerland, 2009), Louvre-Lens
(France, 2012) and Bocconi University New Urban Campus
(Milan, 2020). SANAA has received numerous awards, including the renowned Pritzker Architecture Prize (2010) and the Architectural Institute of Japan Prize (2006). The extension to the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Australia, the Sydney Modern Project
, is scheduled to open to the public in December 2022 and looks like becoming a stunning major landmark in the city of Sydney. Further projects currently underway worldwide include the New Kagawa Prefectural Gymnasium
and the Suzhou Shishan Square Art Theater and Museum
SANAA is the internationally active architectural practice led by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, whose innovative designs champion connections and integration between people and places.
On graduating from Japan Women's University, Sejima joined Toyo Ito Architects before establishing her own practice in 1987. She attracted both attention and acclaim with early projects such as Saishunkan Seiyaku Women's Dormitory
(1991). Nishizawa joined Sejima's office after completing his studies at Yokohama National University and the two set up SANAA in 1995, working on projects that have broken new ground in the architectural world.
Although they maintain their own practices, when working together as SANAA, Sejima says, “There is no division of work at all, we do everything together. We play both a sensory role and theoretical role."
The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art
, Kanazawa (2004) was commissioned with the aim of modernizing the image of the historical city of Kanazawa, winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale International Architecture Exhibition the same year as it was completed - garnering SANAA with worldwide recognition and firmly putting them on the map as a powerhouse of design and engineering talent.
Responding to Kanazawa City's request for a “low threshold museum” open to all, the structure consists of a mixture of large and small exhibition rooms, all located within a large outer glass circle. Visitors can come and go through various entrances from all around the building, allowing people to spend time as they wish, without having to follow a conventional prearranged route. The transparent glass walls ensure that the building feels open and still very much a part of the town.
SANAA’s light, outward-opening, precise and sophisticated style is highly regarded and has led to a huge number of overseas projects being commissioned, including the New Museum of Contemporary Art
(New York, 2007), the ROLEX Learning Center
(Switzerland, 2009), the Louvre-Lens
, an annex to the Louvre Museum in northern France (2012) and Bocconi University New Urban Campus
(Milan, 2020), to name but a few.
Throughout their shared career, Sejima and Nishizawa have striven to design “park-like architecture”; architecture that is without hierarchy and that integrates itself into the surrounding environment, allowing people to create connections in a shared space. Their transparent and light designs have blown a fresh wind into the architectural world, inspiring a new generation of architects.
SANAA has received numerous awards including the Pritzker Architecture Prize (2010). They are currently working on the extension to the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Australia, the Sydney Modern Project
, that is scheduled to open to the public in December 2022. Other projects include the New Kagawa Prefectural Gymnasium
in Japan and the Suzhou Shishan Square Art Theater and Museum