Posts tagged with "Kazuyo Sejima":

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Kazuyo Sejima designs museum dedicated to Japanese artist Hokusai

Katsushika Hokusai, the artist behind the The Great Wave Off Kanagawa—a painting so famous it even has its own emoji—now has a museum dedicated to his work. The Sumida Hokusai Museum in Tokyo opened in November last year and was designed by Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima, co-founder of SANAA.

Inside, more than 18,000 works from Hokusai and his protégés are on display. On the outside, however, a reflective aluminum skin wraps around the entire structure, dampening its monolithic form. The aluminum facade comprises an arrangement of angled panels. This formation allows the museum entrance to remain ambiguous and relatively undefined. Meanwhile, angled cuts through the building also soften the form's presence while serving as a way of allowing daylight in—the museum has no directly outward facing windows.

In addition to letting light in, the angular voids also provide views out. Museum-goers can enjoy vistas of Japan's capital city from within when on the upper levels. Walkways and programming too are defined by these incisions.

As part of the brief, Sejima was asked to design a museum that appealed to both tourists and locals. Hokusai lived in the region of Sumida, Edo (now known as Tokyo) roughly 200 years ago. The museum dedicated to his work and legacy resides in the same area—hence its name. The Pritzker Prize–winning architect's five-story building not only holds close to 20,000 works but, includes seminar, lecture, and workshop spaces, as well as a research center. This program is a bid to broaden the scope of Hokusai's work, making it accessible to a wider audience and cementing his status within the art world.

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David Chipperfield chosen for 2016 Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative

Swiss watchmaker Rolex is looking out for new talent. The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative pairs accomplished artists and designers across all disciplines with emerging practitioners for a yearlong, one-on-one mentorship. At an awards ceremony on Sunday in Mexico City, David Chipperfield was chosen as the mentor in architecture. The partnership with the as-yet-unchosen protege will begin mid-2016. A noted architect of cultural and civic institutions, Chipperfield designed Mexico City's Museo Júmex (completed 2013); the Nobel Center in Stockholm (set to open in 2018); the Royal Academy of Arts master plan (expected completion: 2018); and the Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate, England. In September of this year, David Chipperfield Architects beat out KPF and Foster + Partners to convert the Eero Saarinen–designed United States Embassy in London into a hotel. For the Rolex initiative, panels of arts professionals all over the world convene to nominate new talent in their respective fields. Mentors choose from a list of three to four finalists. Winners will be announced in June of next year. The pair is asked to spend at least six weeks together, collaborating on projects. Past mentors in architecture include Peter Zumthor (2014–2015), Kazuyo Sejima (2012–2013), and Alvaro Siza (2002–2003). In addition to Chipperfield, this year the committee selected Mia Couto (literature), Alfonso Cuarón (film), Philip Glass (music), Joan Jonas (visual arts), Robert Lepage (theatre) and Ohad Naharin (dance).
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Biennale Finale

This is the last Venice Architecture Biennale post for 2010--I promise! The organization that oversees all the Venetian biennales (art, film, music etc.), la Biennale di Venezia, sent us a press release with the numbers from the just concluded architecture exhibition. It claims that 170,000 people visited the event, a 31% increase over the last architecture exhibit in 2008  (which had 129,323 attendees). It should be pointed out however that the older and more established art biennale had 375,702 attendees in 2009. The exhibition included the participation of 53 Countries and 20 Collateral events sponsored by international institutions and organizations and located in various venues in and around Venice. Further, the initiative to bring in architecture students to the biennale produced workshops with 21 Italian universities and 15 foreign schools of architecture, and 49% of the total visitors were students. There is no word what was actually produced in these student workshops but the biennale’s Architecture Saturdays, which  brought back all the living past curators for conversations, was deemed a success as was the organizations new iphone and ipad apps that link one into the exhibition. The biennale’s president Paolo Baratta, serving his last term as leader of the Italian organization and presumably the person who pushed for Kazuyo Sejima to lead the 2010 event, said in a statement, “We wanted the Exhibition to come back to talk about architecture as indispensable art for planning the civic public life and for growing a civilization that addresses people towards their relations with the others. Sejima offered us an exhibition that enriches our sensibility for the space in which we live, of us as architects but especially as private and public commitments, that have the role to give shape to more qualified questions and ambitions. An exhibition addressed to thinkers and students, but also to the big public as ever that came to visit it.” The 2010 biennale was like its President Baratta: smart and elegant. Fino.
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Venice 2010> Has the Biennale Outlived its Usefulness?

The 2010 Venice architecture biennale closed on Saturday—at least for media representatives, as journalists were required for the first time to turn in their press passes and enter as public citizens (tickets, $25). I hated giving up that pass as it allowed me access to the exhibitions both at the Arsenale and in the giardini, home of the national pavilions. Though Venice is hardly a major military installation there are canals in the area that are off-limits to civilians; a water taxi driver informed my group that only a special permit would get us into the canal so I produced my press pass and he said “va bene” and he drove us up the canal. The power of the press! I walked the exhibition again but this time trying to imagine the message it was communicating to the public rather than to professionals. It was now no longer possible to speak with the designers of the installations who were made available for the press to help explain their projects. In one bay of the Arsenale, for example, an elaborate recording studio space had been created in which Hans Ulrich Obrist dramatically interviewed biennale participants live during the vernissage but there was now only silent faces of interviewees on isolated flat screens with voices accessible by head phones. The fantastically elegant installation Architecture as Air: Study for Chateau la Coste by the Japanese architect Junya Ishigami was still there, that highlight of jury day that was later, as we reported, knocked down by a rampaging cat the night before the opening. Now as you walk by the piece, its a huge bare room with monofilament fragments scattered across the floor, a mere memory of the installation that won the Golden Lion for the best project in the exhibition. Small groups of workers are trying to figure out how to reconnect the piece, while at a computer, some five techies try to figure out how to put it back together again before the end of the biennale. Visitors still wonder by, not sure what to make of the mess. In fact, the Venice biennale, like any architecture exhibition, communicates with two audiences between which its curators and directors must always mediate: the professional and academic architecture community, including the design press, and the public, particularly young students from Italy and Europe. This problem of how to display architecture to different audiences is of course an issue with any architecture exhibit, but in Venice it takes on added meaning because architects have looked to the biennale as the most experimental and trend-setting event in the architecture world. Yet its curators—from the first by Vittorio Gregotti (“On the Subject of the Stucky Mill”) to this year’s Kazuyo Sejima (People Meet in Architecture)—always claim they are thinking of the public first when they create their biennales. Which always leads them to being slammed by the design press for elitism and lack of concern for the public. The question of how to display architecture in an exhibition is not an easy one to answer but criticism most often focuses on each biennale’s emphasis on art-like installations rather than on attempts to grapple seriously with the important architecture and urban issues of the day. Gregotti, for example claimed that when it comes to presenting architecture “communicating with the public is practically impossible” but then he did the first biennale in which he claimed: “I wanted to make a clear and certain declaration that the biennale was open to the public, to Venice and to non-specialists.” Even the curator of the famous 1980 Strada Novissima exhibition in the Arsenale, Paolo Portoghesi, asserted at the time that architecture had lost its ability to “speak to the common people.” But this lack of communicating was behind the creation of his cinematic facades lining both sides of the Arsenale. The best exhibitions of architecture, according to biennale president Paolo Baratta, are the ones that are the most cinematic and entertaining. Yet it is equally true that the best ones are those that inspire without preaching. How well did the 2010 biennale do in this regard? This is the fourth Venice biennale that I have attended and this year there seemed to be even more displays of art-like installations than before. Mostly, they focused on the nature of design as a way of inspiring people to recognize the power of architecture. But then the question is, whether design in the absence of urbanism is architecture or just design? The great thing about the biennale is that there is always something for everyone to love (or to hate) regardless of their position. The Kingdom of Bahrain’s national pavilion consisting of actual hand-hewn shacks imported for display and judged the best by the biennale team of jurors, proved that architectural ideas and concerns can be displayed in an exhibition setting. Throughout the biennale many exhibition spaces were, in fact, examples of architectural ideas on display that didn’t need to resort to strategies of artistic practice. It should be noted that in the biannual complaining— for which opportunities abounded at such venues as Raumlabor Berlin’s inflatable bubble space, Volume journal’s Dutch pavilion, and Robert White’s Dark Side club soireés—concerns about cost and exclusivity of its message are now getting more serious. There were many people speculating that the biennale format may have outlived its usefulness and should be abandoned. Some of this is a reflection of the ubiquity of communications and image-making on the web, but it is also a feeling that money would be better spent on solving more demanding issues, like poverty and affordable housing. I know from experience that staging a biennale in a national pavilion cost in excess of $400,000, and there are rumors that this year the Austrian pavilion cost in excess of $800,000, while the Germans at their pavilion showed only drawings and it still cost $650,000. If you add up all the pavilions, the Arsenale, the giardini, not to mention the parties and airfare, this is a $20 million to $30 million affair, an increasingly flashy two-month party. How much longer can, or should, we carry on? Look for a final blog post on the Golden Lions, the national pavilions, and the events surrounding the biennale.
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Venice 2010> Storming the Arsenale & Rem in da Haas

Nothing much to report from yesterday, as it was a day of formal openings when very little was in fact open to the press or public. It was mostly a day of introductory speeches by biennale directors and city and government officials. Frank Gehry presented some models, made a few brief remarks, and then everyone headed for the hallway, where we had our first free prosecco and great little appetizers. Journalists and media types stood around asking about where the best parties were to be had in the coming days (more on this later). Today—after two days of too many speeches and press conferences—the biennale finally opened the doors of both the Arsenale and the national pavilions in the giardini, and everyone had their first chance to officially see if people really do meet in architecture. I ran through the projects installed in the Arsenale and in the afternoon the Italian pavilion in the giardini, which is of course not the Italian pavilion but simply a large exhibition space. The gigantic Arsenale has only 15 installations this year, giving each vast amounts of space in which to confront visitors. Most are therefore huge installations and are really engaged in design pyrotechnics more than displays of building models. They are architecture, but in what is fast becoming a kind of biennale style, halfway between design and art. These include a 3-D film by Wim Wenders of SANAA’s Rolex Center and a smoke-filled cloud room with a long spiral ramp that is a pale replica of Diller and Scofidio’s Blur Building from 2002. Another space titled Architecture as Air: Study for Chateau La Coste by the architect Junya Ishigami is constructed from a field of thin monofilament pieces precisely arrayed across the space like a barely visible Fred Sandback string sculpture. Ishigami’s piece is indecipherable and most visitors simply pass through, but I was told by some young workers that it was meant to be a self-supporting line house until a cat ran through last night and it came crashing down. Can this be true? Anyway, it’s a good story. Like what happened yesterday to Aaron Betsky, who curated the biennale in 2008. He was turned back at the door because he did not have the right credentials. When he protested that he had been the curator two years ago, an official replied: “So what are you doing at the biennale this year?” In the afternoon, I saw the Italian pavilion, which Italian curator Luca Molinari has filled with a more diverse body of work than displayed in the Arsenale, ranging from installation projects to artworks and models. It’s hard in a quick blog post to summarize the work in this enormous pavilion without flattening out the diversity here or reverting to clichés. It deserves more thought and attention and individual consideration and that’s what I will try and do in an upcoming post. But if there is a theme in the Italian pavilion, it is that more than a few critique or try to update the notion of utopia either in its early idealization—or the more recent consideration of it as not a model worth considering. There is Tom Sachs' installation of slightly torn paper Corbusian prototypes on the one side, and Aldo Cibic’s wonderful small-scale utopian landscape of idealized building types, from high-design, high-density housing to bland suburban cul de sacs. In between these are all sorts of architectural thoughts, but none more thoughtful than Rem Koolhaas and a history of his Office for Metropolitan Architecture, a tribute to his winning this year’s Golden Lion. I did have a chance to check out the British pavilion and see its wonderful muf-designed wooden "medical school" theater and miniature Venetian estuary complete with crabs and snails. Both show the advantage of having designers of muf’s ability curating an exhibition. Finally, the Ryue Nishizawa-curated Japanese pavilion is also rethinking utopia, in this case a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Metabolist movement. It brings back the movement but argues in fact that the city is organic and, as Aaron Levy claims, “beyond politics.” Now for the important stuff: The best party so far was the Audi Urban Futures event at the fabulous and long-vacant Misericordia space, which a Venetian friend used as a basketball court when she was a child. The highlight of the party was the announcement that the Future Award (worth 100,000 euros) was won by Jurgen Mayer H., an architect of great design talent who is now beginning to emerge as an international force. With the biennale finally underway, I’m beginning to wonder if Sejima is right, and people meet in architecture, or, as Italian critic Luigi Prestinenza Pugliese says, does this show prove that “architects don’t really like people?”
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Venice 2010> Going Gaga at the Giardini

The Venice biennale does not open officially to the press until Thursday, August 26, and just about all of the national pavilions in the giardini are madly rushing to finish before that date. All the pavilions that is, except sadly the crumbling Venezuelan pavilion, which will not have an exhibition in it this year. The small, rough concrete structure was designed by Carlo Scarpa in 1954, and is being kept alive, I have been told, by a single guardian angel who maintains it free of charge. Where are the petro dollars? Or is the Chavez government thinking this exhibition is irrelevant to its more pressing economic problems? Making it even sadder, right next door the Russian pavilion has been lovingly restored on the exterior, with a new skylight and pre-Soviet iron pinnacle. So far, a first impression of this year’s biennale, under curator Kazuyo Sejima’s theme “People Meet in Architecture,” is that there is remarkably little architecture here. The majority of national buildings feature installations that are more like art than architecture. For example, the exhibition at the Polish pavilion, Emergency Exit, curated by Londoner Elias Redstone, is composed of reclaimed birdcages stacked to the roof. It asks viewers to surmount the structure, hold their breath, and then dive into a void. I trust Elias, so will give it a jump tomorrow and report back—assuming I make it out alive. The project at the adjacent Egyptian pavilion looks as if it were meant to be made on a CNC milling machine, but is being entirely cut and framed by hand—with very sharp edges all along. In the garden, Raum Berlin have a crew of workers making funky wooden chair/stairs, and I may try to bring one home! The Italian pavilion, by the way, has a great-looking Op Art cafe created for the last art biennale, inserted in a corner with a nice outdoor seating area on a canal. The Canadian pavilion, which did not open on time in 2008, is filled with an amazing installation by Philip Beesley called Hylozoic Ground, with a publication edited by ex-Storefront staffer Pernilla Ohrstedt and Hayley Isaacs. Check out a few more first glimpses from the giardini below, and stay tuned!
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The Best of Venice: Your Biennale Daybook

The Venice Architecture Biennale has traditionally opened later in September. But this year, because of a scheduling conflict, it is opening on August 29 and will remain open until November 21. We will be blogging from the biennale during the press preview and beyond, so watch for our posts of events, press conferences, and parties. If you want a list of official biennale events you can of course check their website, along with the new iPhone app that launched today. But this year there seem to be more collateral events to the official program than ever before. Here is an unofficial listing of some of the most exciting: August 22-27 The NOW INTERVIEWS: Hans Ulrich Obrist The curator of the 12th architecture biennale, Kazuyo Sejima, commissioned Hans Ulrich Obrist to create a new iteration of his ongoing Interview Project, first conceived in the 1970s and now produced for the biennale by the Institute of the 21st Century. Obrist will conduct the interviews in the Arsenale and talks with Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa (August 24, 9:30 a.m.), Frank Gehry (August 27, 10:30 a.m.) and this year’s Golden Lion winner Rem Koolhaas (August 25, 9:30 a.m.). Meanwhile, Bice Curiger, curator of the 2011 art biennale, will turn the tables and interview Hans Ulrich Obrist (August 26, 5:00 p.m.). August 25 Pier Luigi Nervi: Architettura come Sfida This exhibition of the engineer and architect opens on August 25 at Palazzo Giustinian Lolin Campo Manin, San Marco, and runs through November. The Arts of Giambattista Piranesi: Architect, Etcher, Antiquarian, Vedutista, Designer on Venice This exhibition, on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, opens on August 25 and runs through November 21. August 26 Rethinking Education: A New Postgraduate School in Moscow, and OMA Strelka, a new postgraduate school in Moscow for Media, Architecture, and Design, is teaming up with OMA for a conversation on architectural education in Russia and beyond. OMA’s think tank, AMO, has developed an educational programme for Strelka, which will open its doors to students in October. Rem Koolhaas introduces Strelka’s educational team and presents the school’s research agenda. On Thursday, August 26 from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m. at the Teatro Piccolo Arsenale, Venice. Mapping Contemporary Venice from the City of Today to the Venice of the Future Venturing into a project far from the mass tourism postcard, this exhibition is set down in the moleskines with the visionary idea of Acqualta in 2060. It will take place at the Venice International University on San Servolo Island from August 26 to September 20. Inventario Stop by the launch of a new publishing project called Inventario—part book, part magazine—on August 26 at Ca’ Giustinian (headquarters of Biennale) at 6:00 p.m. August 27 Workshopping The United States pavilion presents projects that “involve the architect as the initiator of a transdisciplinary cooperative team focused on research, social engagement, and private initiative for public benefit.” Featured practices include Hood Design, MOS, John Portman & Associates, Guy Nordenson, Catherine Seavitt, ARO, the LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio, Anthony Fontenot, Chicago’s Archeworks, Michael Sorkin’s Terreform, and UCLA’s cityLAB. The opening press conference is Friday, August 27. Architects Meet in Fuori Biennale This is the first survey on worldwide architects under 35 by the Association of Italian Architects and Critics. The event will take place in two different venues on August 27. One is at the Aula Magna of the Università IUAV di Venezia (S. Croce 191 Tolentini), where the work of young Italian architects and critics will be presented. Architecture on Display Book Party The launch party for Architecture on Display: On the History of the Venice Biennale of Architecture, will take place at the Fondazione Giorgip Cini on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore from 11:00-1:00 on August 27. The book features Aaron Levy and William Menking in conversations with Vittorio Gregotti, Paolo Portoghesi, Francesco Dal Co, Hans Hollein, Massimiliano Fuksas, Deyan Sudjic, Kurt Forster, Richard Burdett, Aaron Betsky, Kazuyo Sejima, and biennale president Paolo Baratta. Beyond Entropy: When Energy Becomes Form Following the book launch, the Architectural Association will host a symposium on eight projects dealing with science and architecture. Speakers include Hans Ulrich Obrist, Beppe Caccia (Councilor, Venice City Hall), Joseph Rykwert, Stefano Boeri, Eyal Weizman, Suman Basar, Richard Burdett, and Hans Hollein. If Buildings Could Talk The press conference for a new film by Wim Wenders, described as “a visual 3-D video installation that investigates the Rolex Learning Center in Lausanne, the recently inaugurated building by SANAA,” will be held on August 27. Wenders explores the question of how buildings communicate with their users, responding to Sejima’s theme for the biennale, “People Meet in Architecture.” The film will screen for the duration of the biennale. Longing for... Score #1 A hybrid performance-installation focusing on translatory movements of choreography and architecture, this show focuses on choreography as a description and design of space, through which representational conventions of both disciplines are brought into dialogue. Runs from August 27 to August 29 at the Arsenale Novissimo. August 28 M9: A New Museum for a New City The studios Agence Pierre-Louis Faloci, Carmassi Studio di Architettura, David Chipperfield Architects, Mansilla+Tuñón Arquitectos, Sauerbruch Hutton, and Souto Moura Arquitectos will present designs for the new museum and renovation of the former Matter barracks, which on this occasion will be open to the public for the first time. It runs from August 28 to November 21 at Via Alessandro Poerio, 24, Venezia-Mestre. The Bearable Lightness of Being: The Metaphor of the Space 2 This show’s 22 artists developed a special artistic engagement in interpreting the functional nature of space and its anthropological or political references. Taking space, taking ground, and working in the cultural field are the centre of this exhibition. At the Arsenale Novissimo, Tesa di San Cristoforo 94 from August 28 to October 7. L’Aquila Exhibition and Talk SISMYCITY is photographic project on the aftermath of the earthquake that struck the Italian city of L’Aquila on April 6, 2009. This exhibition and conference, held in the Palazzo Ducale, aims to make Venice itself a city-wide gallery for documentary images of the post-earthquake situation and the collective thinking on the future of the city. Join Angelo Scola, Massimo Cacciari, Robert Hammond, and others for the conference on Saturday, August 28 at 9:30 a.m. August 29 The Garden and Beyond: A Global Garden The garden has for centuries been a source of inspiration and fascination, and the object of cultural, scientific, and aesthetic studies. Its configuration as a closed space makes it similar to the more properly sacred, prohibited, or secret spaces and it shares the same definition of humanity and civilization in the finest possible sense of this term. The exhibition will be on view from August 29 to November 21 at ESU Venezia, sala polivalente “Nardocci,” Dorsoduro, 3861 (Calle larga Foscari); VELA-Actv info point “Hellovenezia,” Isola Nova. Austria Under Construction: Austrian Architecture Around the World The Austrian pavilion, curated by the American architect Eric Owen Moss, includes a long roster of international architects building and teaching in Austria such as Raimund Abraham, Coop Himmelb(l)au, Hans Hollein, Rainer Pirker, Behnisch Architekten, Zaha Hadid Architects, Steven Holl, Michael Sorkin Studio, and Lebbeus Woods. Project Eco-Delta: Design for Coastal Cities The Van Alen Institute and Environmental Defense Fund host a roundtable discussion to explore the environmental challenges faced by coastal cities throughout the world. Titled Project Eco-Delta, the initiative is part of VAI and EDF’s ongoing collaboration in developing design strategies for the landscape surrounding New Orleans. The forum will feature leading experts such as Stephane Asselin (AECOM), Maria Teresa Brotto (Consorzio Venezia Nuova), Stephen Cassell (ARO), and Padraic Kelly (Buro Happold). Check it out on Sunday, August 29 at the U.S. pavilion. Chance Encounter Venice The multidisciplinary art project TEVERETERNO, which has advocated for the revival of Rome's Tiber River, is sponsoring Chance Encounter as part of the opening of the Italian Pavilion on August 29 at 3:30 p.m.
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Sejima Lands Biennale

The president of the Venice Biennale, Paola Barrata, announced this morning that the director of the 12th International Architecture Exhibition will be Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima of SANAA Architects. Last week, we reported rumors that the next director was going to be a woman—a first for this most important of international contemporary architecture expositions. The names most frequently bandied about for this major job were Sejima and Liz Diller. In a formal statement, Sejima said, "The biennale has to be everything and all encompassing, a steady conversation with people who are doing things and the viewer or public who see what they are doing." The 2008 Architecture Biennale was directed by Aaron Betsky whose selection was announced only in January of that year. In picking Sejima, the Biennale has chosen a practicing architect for the first time since Massimiliano Fuksas in 2000. The Biennale has also announced that the exhibition will open on August 29 (with previews starting on August 26) and run through November 21. Traditionally, the Biennale opening date has been mid September; an earlier date should allow many more people to attend the event.