Sanaa at the DAC: A Retrospective

written by:
September 30, 2010

This summer, the Danish Architecture Center in Copenhagen opened an exhibition celebrating the work of Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese design studio Sanaa. Though originally scheduled to close this Friday, the show, titled Sanaa: Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa + Works by Walter Niedermayr, has been extended to Sunday. If the two extra days don't give you enough time to make it there, we give you a taste of what's on display and of Sanaa's work here.

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  The exhibition features models of Sanaa's works--such as this one depicting the firm's recently completed Rolex Learning Center in Lausanne, Switzerland as an extension to the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne--as well as photographs of Sanaa's work by Walter Niedermayr, also shown here. Photo by Jakob Galtt. Courtesy DAC.
    The exhibition features models of Sanaa's works--such as this one depicting the firm's recently completed Rolex Learning Center in Lausanne, Switzerland as an extension to the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne--as well as photographs of Sanaa's work by Walter Niedermayr, also shown here. Photo by Jakob Galtt. Courtesy DAC.
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  One of Sanaa's first commissions was the O-Museum in Nagano, Japan. The building is sited where a castle once stood in the 14th century, so Sejima and Nishizawa elevated it over the ground and the castle's foundation. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
    One of Sanaa's first commissions was the O-Museum in Nagano, Japan. The building is sited where a castle once stood in the 14th century, so Sejima and Nishizawa elevated it over the ground and the castle's foundation. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
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  In another nod to the existing architecture, a window inside the O-Museum carefully frames a nearby traditional structure. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
    In another nod to the existing architecture, a window inside the O-Museum carefully frames a nearby traditional structure. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
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  Though much of Sanaa's work is in the institutional realm, in the early 2000s, the firm designed the Christian Dior Building in the Omotesando district of Tokyo. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
    Though much of Sanaa's work is in the institutional realm, in the early 2000s, the firm designed the Christian Dior Building in the Omotesando district of Tokyo. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
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  The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan, is a circular structure measuring 370 feet in diameter. The building features museum space as well as community gathering areas, a library, and lecture hall. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
    The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan, is a circular structure measuring 370 feet in diameter. The building features museum space as well as community gathering areas, a library, and lecture hall. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
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  Inside the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, the outer ring provides views of the Kanazawa city center. Throughout the interior, ceiling heights range from a generous 13 feet to a soaring 40 feet. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
    Inside the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, the outer ring provides views of the Kanazawa city center. Throughout the interior, ceiling heights range from a generous 13 feet to a soaring 40 feet. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
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  On a small island in Japan, the Naoshima Ferry Terminal is a simple project featuring a 39,000-square-foot roof with a waiting area, cafe, and visitors' center enclosed in glass. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
    On a small island in Japan, the Naoshima Ferry Terminal is a simple project featuring a 39,000-square-foot roof with a waiting area, cafe, and visitors' center enclosed in glass. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
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  In 2006, Sanaa's Glass Pavilion opened at the Toledo Museum of Art. The first of the firm's work in the United States, the pavilion features 74,000 square feet of gallery space, artist studios, demonstration areas, education spaces, and more. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
    In 2006, Sanaa's Glass Pavilion opened at the Toledo Museum of Art. The first of the firm's work in the United States, the pavilion features 74,000 square feet of gallery space, artist studios, demonstration areas, education spaces, and more. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
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  The Glass Pavilion features wide swaths of curving glass, a nod to the city's history as a major center of glass production. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
    The Glass Pavilion features wide swaths of curving glass, a nod to the city's history as a major center of glass production. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
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  Completed in 2006 in Essen, Germany, the Zollverein School of Management and Design stands as a 114-square-foot cube. Its irregular window opens and white facades are reminiscent of an early modernist's masterpiece: Adolf Loos' Villa Müller, completed in Prague in 1930. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
    Completed in 2006 in Essen, Germany, the Zollverein School of Management and Design stands as a 114-square-foot cube. Its irregular window opens and white facades are reminiscent of an early modernist's masterpiece: Adolf Loos' Villa Müller, completed in Prague in 1930. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
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  Another project that brought Sanaa significant attention in the U.S. was the New Museum of New York City, which broke ground in 2005. In 2007, the museum opened looking like a stack of six white boxes piled upon one another, the neutral palette set off only by a rainbow-color and -shape sign reading "Hell, Yes!". Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.  Courtesy of: ゥ Dean Kaufman 2007 All Rights Reserved
    Another project that brought Sanaa significant attention in the U.S. was the New Museum of New York City, which broke ground in 2005. In 2007, the museum opened looking like a stack of six white boxes piled upon one another, the neutral palette set off only by a rainbow-color and -shape sign reading "Hell, Yes!". Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.

    Courtesy of: ゥ Dean Kaufman 2007 All Rights Reserved

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  Sanaa's most recent project was the Rolex Learning Center in Lausanne, Switzerland. The center, which serves as the flagship for École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, incorporates elements of other Sanaa projects: the white siding, organic form, and perimeter of floor-to-ceiling windows. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
    Sanaa's most recent project was the Rolex Learning Center in Lausanne, Switzerland. The center, which serves as the flagship for École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, incorporates elements of other Sanaa projects: the white siding, organic form, and perimeter of floor-to-ceiling windows. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
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  Sanaa won the deeply competitive competition with a proposal for a project that would be less a structure and more akin to a park. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
    Sanaa won the deeply competitive competition with a proposal for a project that would be less a structure and more akin to a park. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
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  The curves of the building follow the organic ways in which people move. The architect avoided straight pathways to avoid crossroads. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
    The curves of the building follow the organic ways in which people move. The architect avoided straight pathways to avoid crossroads. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
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  The Rolex Learning Center is open not just for students but to the general public as well. Within it 65,500 square feet of space, the building houses libraries, meeting and study spaces, restaurants, cafes, and outdoor plazas. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.  Courtesy of: Copyright: suzuki hisao
    The Rolex Learning Center is open not just for students but to the general public as well. Within it 65,500 square feet of space, the building houses libraries, meeting and study spaces, restaurants, cafes, and outdoor plazas. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.

    Courtesy of: Copyright: suzuki hisao

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  In addition to receiving international acclaim and awards, this summer, Sejima (pictured here with Nishizawa) was chosen as the first female director of the International Architecture Exhibition in Venice, which opened in August. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
    In addition to receiving international acclaim and awards, this summer, Sejima (pictured here with Nishizawa) was chosen as the first female director of the International Architecture Exhibition in Venice, which opened in August. Photo by Hisao Suzuki. Courtesy Sanaa.
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  Sanaa: Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa + Works by Walter Niedermayr closes Sunday, however, a new exhibit featuring the design from Vitra as well as the recently opened VitraHaus, titled Vitra: Playing Seriously opens October 16. Photo by Jakob Galtt. Courtesy DAC.
    Sanaa: Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa + Works by Walter Niedermayr closes Sunday, however, a new exhibit featuring the design from Vitra as well as the recently opened VitraHaus, titled Vitra: Playing Seriously opens October 16. Photo by Jakob Galtt. Courtesy DAC.

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