The Architectural Philosophies of Kazuyo Sejima
Japanese architecture has always been known for its close ties to nature and for its simple, minimalist designs. When we think of the subject, we immediately think of the nation’s grand temples and humble shrines. We also think about its people’s simple homes and clean environments.
Indeed, the principles guiding Japanese architecture and interior design have lent these structures a timeless quality. With the country’s unique architecture trademarked by striking simplicity and natural materials, it’s little wonder the style has persisted even until today. Nowadays, contemporary Japanese architecture reflects this same level of minimalism that defined its predecessors, and they’ve since been given modern upgrades to suit current trends.
When it comes to contemporary Japanese architecture, the list of notable architects is long and full of renowned names over the years. One of these notables is Kazuyo Sejima, who is respected among her peers for her clean, modernist take on architecture. Her style is punctuated by “strong shapes and clean lines,” whose spirits, “flowing and delicate,” shone through with every project. It’s thanks to this philosophy that Kazuyo Sejima, the second woman to receive the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize, has helped mold and define the Japanese architecture we know today.
With core principles of simplicity, minimalism, and a respect for the relationships or connections we forge, it’s no wonder her designs and structures have become world-class. Still, there are other different facets to the philosophy that drives Kazuyo Sejima and her work as co-founder of Japan’s SANAA architecture firm.
Looking at the Outside, Influencing the In
An important facet in Kazuyo Sejima’s work is the building’s relationship with its outside environment. Here, she was able to emphasize how her structures interacted with and complemented the surrounding areas.
This is proven by the large windows that not only gave character to her buildings – they also created fluid transitions between the interior and the exterior by letting the light come inside the house. The larger the windows, the clearer the building’s relationship with its surroundings came into focus. With modernist elements like the cubes and squares, Kazuyo Sejima made sure to keep in line with the trends while ensuring the elements’ functionality at the same time.
The Fluidity of Kazuyo Sejima’s Buildings
Thanks to the connections her buildings were able to forge with the outdoors and within closed doors, Kazuyo Sejima’s work could also be described as fluid. She was said to always consider the “space’s social use and its potential for adaptation,” and with this fluidity forming the backbone of her work, one could also say her designs had a forward-looking feel.
With this, her work managed to go beyond the traditional confines of architecture. More than just creating buildings that would stand the test of time, Kazuyo Sejima was also able to craft works that retained a sense of fluidity to reflect her ever-evolving perspective of the world around her.
While Kazuyo Sejima rules the Japanese architectural world, it’s the eccentric Yayoi Kusama who’s now leading other modern artists the world over by marching to the beat of her own polka-dotted drum.
Celebrating Life with Architecture
With Kazuyo Sejima’s tenets of forging connections and lending a fluid sort of style to her buildings, one can now infer that her works always had a sense of life about them. It was, in fact, a core belief of hers that a project would not be considered finished until the inhabitants started living in the building and using it. As mentioned earlier, Kazuyo Sejima loved to use large windows, which would allow the natural light to enter a space and breathe some of the outdoors life into it.
Kazuyo Sejima always created with great consideration for the outdoors and the surrounding environment. More than infusing the building’s location with a seamless addition to the scenery, she would also make sure to let the life bloom naturally indoors. As such, she was able to forge an organic relationship between the outdoors and indoors; as well as a connection between the inside space and those occupying it.
Truly, her work for architecture transcended the field’s traditional borders, allowing her to redefine the craft and re-create it on her own terms, and according to her own philosophies. While we normally view buildings as strong, unmovable structures that can withstand practically anything, Kazuyo Sejima chose to retain this same strength, while making the structure even stronger by infusing her work with a vibrant sense of life and movement.
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