Pritzker Prize 2010: SANAA

Have you heard of SANAA? It is an architectural firm based in Tokyo, Japan which stands for Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates. It was founded in 1995 by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa. These two architects had their greatest achievement this year as they are honoured with world premier architecture prize, Pritzker Prize 2010.

Often referred to the ‘Nobel Prize of Architecture’, this prize is awarded every year to a living architect whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture. We have seen many famous international architects winning this, Sir James Stirling (1981), Ieoh Ming Pei (1983), Richard Meier (1984), Kenzo Tange (1987), Frank Gehry (1989), Robert Venturi (1991), Tadao Ando (1995), Renzo Piano (1998), Norman Foster (1999), Rem Koolhaas (2000), Herzog and de Meuron (2001), Glenn Murcutt (2002), Zaha Hadid (2004), Jean Nouvel (2008), Peter Zumthor (2009)….and some others in other years…

Congratulation to SANAA for being honoured with this award. I wish myself can be awarded with this prize too in near future! The prize also marks the contribution of the architect to the built environment that involves mainly architecture. I do not know about both winning architects before they are awarded with Pritzker Prize. After they are awarded, then they become famous…this is another advantage of the award.

Their works can be summarized as:

‘architecture that is simultaneously delicate and powerful, precise and fluid, ingenious but not overly or overtly clever’

This section below shows the jury citation of the winning architects, that provide description of the characteristics of architecture produced by SANAA and some famous examples of their brilliant works:

(taken from

For more than 15 years, architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa have worked together in their collaborative partnership, SANAA, where it is virtually impossible to untangle which individual is responsible for what aspect of a particular project. Each building is ultimately a work that comes from the union of their two minds. Together they have produced major commissions, such as the O-Museum in Nagano and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa (both in Japan), the Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum (Ohio), De Kunstline Theater and Cultural Center (Almere, the Netherlands), the New Museum of Contemporary Art (New York, NY), and the recent Rolex Learning Center (Lausanne, Switzerland).

The buildings by Sejima and Nishizawa seem deceptively simple. The architects hold a vision of a building as a seamless whole, where the physical presence retreats and forms a sensuous background for people, objects, activities, and landscapes. They explore like few others the phenomenal properties of continuous space, lightness, transparency, and materiality to create a subtle synthesis. Sejima and Nishizawa’s architecture stands in direct contrast with the bombastic and rhetorical. Instead, they seek the essential qualities of architecture that result in a much-appreciated straightforwardness, economy of means, and restraint in their work.

This economy of means, however, does not become a simple reductive operation in the architects’ hands. Instead, it is an intense and rigorous investigation anchored in hard work and steely determination. It is a constant process of refinement, where each client’s program is fully investigated and multiple design possibilities are explored through numerous drawings and models that check every alternative. Ideas are considered and discarded, reconsidered and reworked until only the essential qualities of a design remain. The result is a deft union of structure and organization, of logical purpose and precise beauty.

It may be tempting to view Sejima and Nishizawa’s refined compositions of lightness and transparency as elitist or rarefied. Their aesthetic, however, is one of inclusion. Their approach is fresh, always offering new possibilities within the normal constraints of an architectural project as it systematically takes the next step. They use common, everyday materials while remaining attuned to the possibilities of contemporary technology; their understanding of space does not reproduce conventional models. They often opt for non-hierarchical spaces, or in their own words, the “equivalence of spaces,” creating unpretentious, democratic buildings according to the task and budget at hand.

 One example is the Almere project in the Netherlands, with its many simple classrooms and workshops, all presenting privileged views of the sea. Another example is the Rolex Learning Centre in Lausanne, a space to be used by students day and night. Sejima and Nishizawa originally conceived it as a multi-story building, but, in the course of their deliberation, it became a single yet vast, flowing space. The building’s many spaces (library, restaurant, exhibition areas, offices, etc.) are differentiated not by walls but by undulations of a continuous floor, which rises and falls to accommodate the different uses, while allowing vistas across this internal “landscape for people.”

The relation of the building to its context is of utmost importance to Sejima and Nishizawa. They have called public buildings “mountains in the landscape,” believing that they should never lose the natural and meaningful connection with their surroundings. The New Museum in New York feels at home in the rough Bowery area of the city. Their glass-enclosed museums, such as the Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio, blur the borders between inside and out, providing direct and changing views to the surroundings.

While Sejima and Nishizawa have not published theoretical treatises to date, they are cerebral architects, whose work is based on rigorous investigation and guided by strong and clearly defined concepts. The appointment of Kazuyo Sejima as the director of the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale is a tribute to this.

For architecture that is simultaneously delicate and powerful, precise and fluid, ingenious but not overly or overtly clever; for the creation of buildings that successfully interact with their contexts and the activities they contain, creating a sense of fullness and experiential richness; for a singular architectural language that springs from a collaborative process that is both unique and inspirational; for their notable completed buildings and the promise of new projects together, Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa are the recipients of the 2010 Pritzker Architecture Prize.

[All the pictures of the works by SANAA are from]

[All info in reference to the main website:]

You may refer to that for more info. Who will be winning for 2011 then?


My University Project ‘…for the…’

Last time I have promised to put my works in this blog, on the last project in my Design 102 module of the whole semester, called as Project ‘…for the…’. It is a project which we design a dwelling for our specific client in Malacca.

My chosen client through a lucky draw, at first is Christie Brinkley, a famous model. However, I am given a second chance of lucky pick since there is not much thing can be done on model. Hence, my second and final pick is Amadeus Mozart, a famous musician.

Part 1: Client and Function.

I need to get to know deeply onto the personalities and characteristics of Mozart. What is special about him? What is interesting about him? Mozart is addicted to music when he was only 3 years old, and he was able to write music when he was aged 5 only. He completed his works very fast, but stress was his main problem. His most famous work is ‘Requiem’, which is incomplete, as he felt into severe illness and died before even he could finish it. I am trying to design a place for him to complete the music and perform it.

Client and Function poster (1 A2 size board)

Part 2: Site Analysis.

We had conducted a site visit at Malacca Old Town area. I have chosen a water edge area, a very spacious empty area in the region of new development. Many modern buildings are built and being under construction there, and my dwelling will be notified as part of it, proudly. The calm atmosphere from the peaceful surrounding, flowing water, and windy breeze will surely be effective in reducing stress by Mozart while writing his marvelous piece of work. My site faces the Maritime Museum, a museum built in a form of Portuguese ship and Taming Sari Tower, an observation tower basically for tourism.

My chosen site sits right beside a newly-built park, in a geometrical pattern. My dwelling will be an extension of the park, benefiting the existing pedestrian walkways, which will direct visitors from the tourist center nearby, to the square, next to the park, and finally, to my dwelling. It will be able to attract visitors in such a strategic location of tourist hotspot.

Site Analysis board (1 A0 size board)

Part 3: Design.

The name of my dwelling will be very grand, ‘Performing Center of Amadeus Mozart’. Malacca has many museums, many cafes, many tourist spots, but don’t have a proper performing center. There are many spaces in my dwelling, making it as multi-purpose, such as lobby area to welcome visitors, gallery to display his masterpieces, outdoor platform for audiences to enjoy the surrounding, private working space for Mozart to write his music, and staff area for performers to prepare for performances. The main space will be the performing hall, with a stage and concrete terraces as seating area.

Two concepts are chosen based on Mozart’s personalities.

1. Emphasis on external appearance

My dwelling will have a grand and modern outlook appearance, and is easily visible from afar, especially from the Taming Sari Tower and Maritime Museum. It is located on the spacious empty land in the middle of the reclaimed land (Malacca River Square) on Malacca River. The large scale of the project making it more distinctive. The interior is very plain, with no decorations or ornamentations. The seating area of performing hall is just of concrete terraces, and all the floor, wall, and roof have no finishes. Even the stage is simple, with a background of glass screen.

Mozart emphasized on his outer appearance. He loved to wear elegant clothing. However, he was very poor and has financial difficulties. Hence, this concept suits him the most, and shows that this place is dedicated for him, while not letting the others know (also not letting the others know that he was actually poor).

2. No distinction between exterior and interior.

As I have mentioned just now, there is so much difference between exterior and interior look of the building. Now, there is another concept of linking them back, harmoniously, by using one material: glass. Mozart should not be enclosed by solid walls when he was writing his music, as this will lead to stress easily. Hence, his private working space is built mainly of glass, four walls of glass to separate him from the outside weather, while combining the area with the surrounding. He will be enjoying the time of writing his music with the surrounding at a high level. Imagine, how comfortable he will be…

Usual backdrop of current performing center is a plain black wallpaper. For my performing center, it will be different. The backdrop will be the lively background showing the Maritime Museum and Taming Sari Tower with the surrounding. By this way, audiences will feel different kind of atmosphere at different time of performances. It will not attracts the eyes of the audiences during performances but will affect the mood of the audiences. They have entered a boring, dull and plain hall, hence, their focus will be just on the music, while the backdrop plays a role to regain their feeling of being carried away by the music performed by Mozart. The glass backdrop will also provides natural lighting during daytime of performances. The side facade of the gallery is also built of glass, but of two different glass. There are no nice views visible from that side, hence translucent glass will be used, so that the visitors will only enjoy the music sheets displayed. The upper facade will be of transparent movable glass, which allows sunlight to enter for natural lighting, and for air ventilation, supporting the idea of a green building, in a clean, unpolluted and historical city of Malacca. The facade which faces the park will be of solid wall and glass wall. Solid wall separates the performing hall from the outside, so that the activities occuring in the park and square will not disturb the performances. However, the visible lobby from outside will be able to attract visitors to enter.

The entrance to the private working space is small, and short, specially dedicated to Amadeus Mozart. He was s short and small person. However, as soon as he enters the area, the large volume of the space will provides greater freedom and movement for him, thus, giving him more space and less pressure to complete his music. He can went out to the nearby park to enjoy the scenery too.

I have explained almost all of the things related to my design.

Part 4: Interior space.

I have chosen a portion of the performing hall, to be investigated on its finishes, lighting, and construction details. The foundation will be simple, since there is already an existing concrete surface on the ground and the site sits on a reclaimed land (reinforced and stabilized). The portion is on the side showing part of the seating area, stage, and entrance to the outdoor platform, accompanied by the glass backdrop. Among the most interesting feature of my design is the glass backdrop. There is no finishes on it, as i have explained earlier. The lighting during the day is provided with aid of the glass screen. The materials used to built is mainly of concrete and glass.

My overall presentation board (5 A1 sized board combined together):

My final model (sectional) on the site model (scale 1:100):

My interior model (scale 1:20):

This is overall of the project, which ended by a verbal presentation during review by external panels, and the whole semester successfully ended with submission of box containing all the works and portfolio…

Oslo Opera House

I have discovered this piece of wonderful architecture, when I skimmed through an architecture book. Now, for me, it looks more interesting, when I did some research on performing center and opera house that is related to my project ‘…for the…’ in my Design 102.

Oslo Opera House, construction began 2004 and ended 2007, designed by architect Snohetta, covering an area of 38 500 square metres, and is located at Oslo, Norway.

There are basically four diagrams that explain the building’s basic concept, derived from the architect.

“The Wave Wall”

Opera and ballet are young artforms in Norway. These artforms evolve in an international setting . The Bjørvika peninsula is part of a harbour city, which is historically the meeting point with the rest of the world.. The dividing line between the ground ‘here’ and the water ‘there’is both a real and a symbolic threshold. This threshold is realised as a large wall on the line of the meeting between land and sea, Norway and the world, art and everyday life. This is the threshold where the public meet the art.

“The Factory”

A detailed brief was developed as a basis for the competition. Snøhetta proposed that the production facitities of the operahouse should be realised as a self contained, rationally planned ‘factory’. This factory should be both functional and flexible during the planning phase as well as in later use. This flexibility has proved to be very important during the planning phase: a number of rooms and romm groups have been adjusted in collaboration with the end user. These changes have improved the buildings functionality without affecting the architecture.

“The Carpet”

The competion brief stated that the operahouse should be of high architectural quality and should be monumental in it’s expression. One idea stood out as a legitimation of this monumentality: The concept of togetherness, joint ownership, easy and open access for all. To achieve a monumentality based on these notions we wished to make the opera accessible in the widest possible sense, by laying out a ‘carpet’ of horizontal and sloping surfaces on top of the building. This carpet has been given an articulated form, related to the cityscape. Monumentality is achieved through horizontal extension and not verticality.

The conceptual basis of the competition, and the final building, is a combination of these three elements – The wave wall, the factory and the carpet.

Urban Situation

The operahouse is the first element in the planned transformation of this area of the city. In 2010 the heavy traffic beside the building will be moved into a tunnel under the fjord. Due to its size and aesthetic expression, the operahouse will stand apart from other buildings in the area. The marble clad roofscape forms a large public space in the landscape of the city and the fjord.

The public face of the operahouse faces west and north – while at the same time, the building’s profile is clear from a great distance from the fjord to the south. Viewed from the Akershus castle and from the grid city the building creates a relationship between the fjord and the Ekerberg hill to the east. Seen from the central station and Chr. Fredriks sq. The opera catches the attention with a falling which frames the eastern edge of the view of the fjord and its islands.

The building connects city and fjord, urbanity and landscape.
To the East, the ‘factory’ is articulated and varied.
One can see the activities within the building: Ballet reheasal rooms at the upper levels, workshops at street level. The future connection to a living and animated new part of town will give a greater sense of urbanity.

Choice of materials

The materials, with their specific weight, colour, texture and temperature, have been vital to the design of the building. Snøhettas architecture is narative. It is the materials which form the defining elements of the spaces. It is the meeting of the materials which articulates the architecture through varied detail and precision.

In the operahouse, three main materials were specified as early as the competition entry: White stone for the ‘carpet’, timber for the ‘wave wall’, and metal for the ‘factory’. During the continued work on the project, a fourth material, glass, which allows for the exposure of the underside of the ‘carpet’, has been given specific attention.


After an international tender competition, th italian marble, La Facciata, was chosen. This is a stone which, in common with other marbles, retains its brilliance and colour even when wet. It has the necessary technical quality in terms of stabitity, density, and longevity. The producer, Campolonghi, has had the professional ability, capacity, and experience necessary for such a large and complex project.
The accessibble area of the ‘carpet’ is approx. 18,000 m2. Its detailed design has been important: the architect desired that it should not interfere with the general dorm of the building but that it simultaneously was articulated enough to be ineresting at close quarters.
Together with the artists several alternatives were proposed before a particular non repetitive pattern with integrated raised areas, special cuts, various surface textures, and specific details were designed to articulate the main geometry.


Oak has been chosen as the dominating material for both the ‘wave wall’ and the main auditorium.
For the wave wall it has a light and varied surface. Oak is used throughout for the floors, walls and ceilings. The wave wall has a complex organic geometry made up of joined cone shapes. It is also an important acoustic attenuator within the foyer space. To achieve these goals it is made up of smaller elements which can deal with the changing geometry and provide acoustic absorption.
Inside the auditorium oak has been chosen for a number of reasons: It is dense, easily formed, stable and tactile.
The oak has been treated with amonia to give a dark tone. Here too oak is used for floors, walls, and ceilings, as well as balcony fronts, and acoustic reflectors.


An operahouse is designed and built to have a long lifespan. This means that a simple, modern metal cladding, such as we associate with factories and workshops, needs to be re-evaluated and redesigned.
After a consideration of aesthetics, longevity, maleability and the possibility to make very flat panel, aluminium wa chosen. To give the panels further quality, a collabarative process was begun with two artists.
The design team initially aimed for an industrial modulrity but that the panels themselve should have greater visual quality. The panels were punched with convex spherical segments and concave conical forms. The pattern was developed by the artists based on old weaving techniques.


The high glass facade over the foyer has a dominant role in the views of the building from the south, west, and north. Early in the project it was realised that this glass faced was more important than previously assumed, both during the day and night when it would act as a lamp illuminating the external surfaces.

The glass façade is up to 15 meters high. It was the architects intention to design a glass construction with an absolute minimum og columns, framing, and stiffening in steel. The solution was to use glass fins where minimised steel fixings are sandwiched inside the laminates.
The requirements for the glass’s stiffness increased due to the desire for large panels and slim joints where the panels meet.
Thick glass of this sort tends to be quite green rather than transparent. It was therefore decided that the façade of the operahouse would use low iron glass.

In all, eight different panels were designed which give a constantly changing effect depending on the angle, intensity and colour of the light playing on them.

Plan solution, general arrangement

plan 1

The building is split in two by a corridor running north-south, the ‘opera street’. To the west of this line are located all the public areas and stage areas. The eastern part of the building houses the production areas which are simpler in form and finish. Comprising 3 to 4 storeys above ground. There is also a basement level – U1 – below this part of the building. The sub stage area is a further 3 storeys deep.


To know more on the Oslo Opera House, like the spaces in the building (main auditorium, interiors), landscaping and courtyard, drawings and details, please refer to this site:

This is the source and the information posted here are obtained partially from the source mentioned above. is certainly a good website to find new building designs, and many more, related to architecture, updated daily.