May 15, 2023

Portfolio | Kazuyo Sejima

By 1605 Collective
Architecture, Portfolio

Kazuyo Sejima is a Japanese architect born on October 29, 1956 in Iberaki Prefecture, Japan. She is known for her innovative and modernist designs that prioritise social use and adaptation. Sejima earned her master’s degree in architecture from Japan Women’s University in 1981 and established her own practice in 1987 with the name Kazuyo Sejima & Associates.

Sejima’s work soon gained national recognition in Japan, and she even won the award of Young Architect of the Year from the Japanese Institute of Architects in 1992. She then turned her firm into SANAA (Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates) in 1995, collaborating with Ryue Nishizawa in Tokyo. However, after just two years, both architects decided to pursue their individual practices, and Sejima started working on small-scale projects.

One of Sejima’s major concerns regarding any project has always been the space’s social use and its potential for adaptation. Following this philosophy, Sejima doesn’t consider any project to be completed until its inhabitants put life into it with their activities. Her buildings are best known for their clean, shiny surfaces, and she often uses glass, marble, and metals as her preferred materials for almost all of her projects. Sejima’s signature style comprises of her smooth surfaced and well-organised buildings accompanied by modernist elements of time. Squares and cubes are her favorite shapes of choice and can be seen excessively in almost all of her designs.

Kazuyo Sejima | 1605 Collective


Sejima is a true believer in blending outdoor spaces with building’s interior, which is why she always incorporates large windows in her buildings, developing a visual connection between indoor and outdoor spaces. It is also said that most of the times Sejima takes inspiration from the site and its surroundings before starting off any project.

Sejima has worked in many countries, including Germany, France, England, the Netherlands, United States, and Spain. Some of her notable projects include the Platform I Vacation House, Castelbajac Sports Store, Saishunkan Seiyaku Women’s Dormitory, and the New Museum in New York City. She has also made great contributions as a professor of architecture, starting her teaching career at Keio University in Tokyo. She has taught at Princeton University, the Polytechnique de Lausanne, and Tama Art University and is currently a visiting faculty member at both Tama Art University and Japan Women’s University in Tokyo.

Kazuyo Sejima | 1605 Collective


Kazuyo Sejima’s unique design philosophy has earned her several accolades and recognition worldwide. In 2010, she became the first woman to receive the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize, considered the Nobel Prize of architecture. Her design for the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan, won the 2004 Venice Biennale Golden Lion award.

Sejima's work is a testament to her commitment to creating unique spaces that are both beautiful and functional. Her contribution to the world of architecture has been immense and has paved the way for many young architects to explore new ideas and techniques. Kazuyo Sejima is a true visionary, and her legacy will undoubtedly continue to inspire generations to come.

Inspiring Others

There are many architects who work in a similar style to Kazuyo Sejima, particularly in their use of clean lines, geometric shapes, and emphasis on transparency and the integration of indoor and outdoor spaces. Some notable names include Toyo Ito, SANAA co-founder Ryue Nishizawa, and Sou Fujimoto, all of whom are also Japanese architects. In addition, other prominent architects such as Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry have also incorporated similar modernist elements into their work. However, what sets Sejima apart is her particular focus on the social use and adaptability of space, as well as her preference for using materials such as glass, marble, and metals in her designs.

Kazuyo Sejima | 1605 Collective