SANAA (Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates) is a multiple award-winning architectural firm based in Tokyo, Japan. It was founded in 1995 by two Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima (妹島 和世 °1956) and Ryue Nishizawa (西沢立衛 °1966) and to this day both architects work on individual projects outside of SANAA. Sejima and Nishizawa were awarded the Pritzker Prize in 2010.
SANAAs work includes a large number of successful public buildings, such as the New Museum and the Rolex Learning Center, but the architects also experiment with housing designs to shape and change our daily life, especially in their individual practices. In spite of their whiteness, the buildings of SANAA are very far from modernist architecture, as the architects continue to incorporate elements of doubt and ambiguity into their works. The extensive use of glass in SANAA’s architecture has quite a different effect than seen in most glass buildings, as SANAA uses the glass to create reflections and layered spaces with unclear boundaries. Also, the architects tend to use playful elements in their architecture, adding a note of humor to the experience.
SANAA is often said to work with a ‘fourth dimension’ in their design of space. This is to say that the complexity of their buildings always contain traits that cannot be explained or communicated via drawings or photos. The touch of humor, the spatial ambiguity and the use of reflections all demand that you visit the buildings to really understand them.
In 2004, SANAA received a Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale for 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art. In 2010, SANAA was awarded the highest honor in architecture, the Pritzker Prize.