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Book – The SANAA Studios – Pritzker Prize Winners

The winners of the 2010 Pritzker Architecture Prize is SANAA, a collaboration by Kazuyo Sejima, Ryue Nishizawa, who have been working together for the past seven year. The prize is the biggest thing you can get in architecture. It is something like the nobel prize for architecture. SANAA are definitely a worthy winner. SANAA actually stands for SejimA and NishizawA and Associates. Their work has played an important role in the young 21st century. Their projects have a very distinct character and the language they have developed is clearly rooted in Japanese architecture, but SANAA ha developed it further and adapted for specific usages. The clarity, purity and whiteness are the main obvious characteristic, but the directness, simplicity and playfulness are for me the interesting aspects. The projects they are best known for are large scale museums or school buildings. The main one are the Toledo Glass Pavilion, the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, or more recently, opened only in February, the Rolex Learning Centre in Lausanne Switzerland. However they have also built some interesting housing projects, for example the Kitagata Housing project or the small early project a House in a Plum Grove Tokyo. They have also built the 2009 Serpentine Pavilion in London.

Image taken from designpublic.com / An outside view of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art.

Image taken from inhabitat.com / Outside views of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York

Just in time Lars Mueller Publishers have now also a new publication about elements of SANAAs work. ‘The SANAA Studions 2006-2008‘, edited by Florian Indenburg. It is a magazine style booklet about SANAAs teaching between 2006 and 2008 at Princeton University. Nevertheless this is very much a publication about SANAA as architects, since their teaching is very much about what they do on a daily basis. The student projects can hardly be distinguished from the original. Of course this is interesting to see and read about what the two actually teach the students and how they help them progress, because this is very much the pure architecture they practice.
The publication cleverly mixes the university design studio work with practice design studio work as well as built examples and references. It features project reports, essays and interviews / discussions. And all this creates a very interesting and detailed picture of what SANAAs practice is all about. It is not about the stardom, the icon or the craziest idea. It is very much abou the joy of building and creation of places, all very low-key. The format of the publication is obviously very well thought out and brilliantly supports this ‘a little bit different’ portrait of the now crowned architecture ‘stars’, portraying them as teacher and colleagues in a context. The will be a lot of great texts celebrating their work, but this one is about how they do it and how they teach other to do it.
So if you want to know the other side of the duo, this is the publication for you.

Image taken by urbanTick / Spread of the publication.

Idenburg, F., 2010. The SANAA Studios 2006-2008: Learning from Japan: Single Story Urbanism, Baden: Lars Muller Publishers.