The house, as metaphor of life and happiness, openness, a component of approach to the natural.
Kazuyo Seijima and Ryue Nishizawa are probably more well known for their work on the 21st Century Museum for Contemporary Art in Kanagawa Japan, when in reality they have done many works for many people ranging from museums to stores to private houses. The book, Sanaa Houses: Kazuyo Seijima + Ryue Nishizawa, focuses on the latter. The book is compiled by Agustin Perez Rubio, the chief curator of Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Castilla y Leon (MUSAC), This book is the last contribution of an exhibit of the houses by Ryue Nishizawa, Kazuyo Seijima, and the entire SANAA office. The book consists of a introductory interview, pictures of uncompleted houses, a brief description of 5 completed houses, pictures of the completed houses and finally commentary on the works of the SANAA office in general.
The introduction features very colorful commentary and an interview by Agustin Perez Rubio with Kazuyo Seijima and Ryue Nishizawa. Illuminating much of the thought that goes behind the development of a project and the process in which the client and designer reach a mutual consensus on the final design of the house. They also touch on some of the history and influences of traditional Japanese architecture in SANAA’s work.
The next part of the book consists of photographs, illustrations, and drafts of unfinished and finished houses. some very unique and interesting houses are featured such as the unfinished Flower house and the finished Moriyama house.
The last part of the book consists of commentary by Kristine Guzman, an architect, Luis Fernandez-Galiano, a architect and professor at the School of Architecture of Madrid’s Universidad Politecnica, and Yuko Hasegawa the chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo. They each speak of various dimensions of SANAA’s work including the Japanese elements that seem to present themselves in SANAA’s work. Elements such as transparency, light, harmony, and nature.
Though not attempting to directly add Japanese influences into their architectural endeavors, it is evident in many of their works that there is a certain traditional Japanese element present regardless. Kazuyo Seijima and Ryue Nishizawa’s ability to evidently project a traditional Japan into their modern works have made them known the world over. This can also be seen in their private homes.
Even with the overly pretentious commentary in the back, the book does shed light on the entity that is SANAA. Their works are indeed uniquely amazing and the book gives a glimpse into their world. Thoughtfully enjoyed, even by a person not overly artistic or knowledgeable on the subject matter, the book is definately worth a look at. Japanese tradition meeting with contemporary mediums is what makes Japan and its artists so interesting. With SANAA having many projects in many countries they exemplify the Japanese ability to step towards the future while still having a tie to the past.
Text: Eric Choo