February 8, 2018 - Royal Academy of Arts, London - Itsuko Hasegawa recognised with inaugural Royal Academy Architecture Prize
e-flux Architecture
February 8, 2018
February 8, 2018

Royal Academy of Arts, London

Itsuko Hasegawa.

Itsuko Hasegawa recognised with inaugural Royal Academy Architecture Prize

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The Royal Academy of Arts in London today announced that the renowned Japanese architect Itsuko Hasegawa has been awarded the 2018 Royal Academy Architecture Prize, honouring her inspiring and enduring contribution to the culture of architecture.

The first in the annual awards, supported by the Dorfman Foundation, forms part of the Royal Academy's increased commitment to architecture and was decided by a distinguished international jury, chaired by the architect and Royal Academician Louisa Hutton. Jury members included architect Richard Rogers RA, Dean of Harvard Graduate School of Design Mohsen Mostafavi, BBC broadcaster Razia Iqbal, artist Conrad Shawcross RA and critic and curator Joseph Grima.

Described by the judging panel as "one of Japan’s most important architects" Hasegawa has largely been under recognised despite her significant contribution to modern architecture both in Japan and around the world. She began her career working with Japan’s Metabolists group of architects including Kisho Kurakawa, Fumihiko Maki and Kenzo Tange and later went on to work with Kazuo Shinohara, whose work is more linked to traditional Japanese architecture. These two very different influences have informed a lifetime of work.

Hasegawa’s buildings feature a lightness of touch, using simple materials and dynamic forms. She founded her own practice in 1979, and after earning notoriety when she won the competition to design the Shonandai Cultural Centre in Fujisawa, Hasegawa was then commissioned to do a large number of projects across Japan including the Sumida Culture Factory, the Yamanashi Museum of Fruit, and the Fukuroi Workshop Centre.

The Royal Academy is also pleased to share the shortlist for the first RA Dorfman Award, which champions global talent that represents the future of architecture.

The shortlist of five architects includes:

Arquitectura Expandida (Colombia)
Go Hasegawa, Founder, Go Hasegawa and Associates (Japan)
Anne Holtrop, Founder, Studio Anne Holtrop (The Netherlands and Bahrain)
Rahel Shawl, Founder, RAAS Architects (Ethiopia)
Alireza Taghaboni, Founder, nextoffice (Iran)

From a collective encouraging communities in Bogota to self-organise to build, to a woman architect mentoring the next generation in Ethiopia and another designing elegant homes in Japan, the shortlist displays the different nature of architecture being produced around the world. It hopes to discover and bring to the fore unusual and highly sophisticated work that ranges from the social to the political and the very architectural to the technical.

From July 2–8, 2018, the RA will host a week-long public celebration which will include the selection of the winner of the RA Dorfman Award, as well as an address by Itsuko Hasegawa, the winner of the Royal Academy Architecture Prize.

Collectively the awards demonstrate the RA’s role as a global advocate for architecture, realising its mission to garner a wider appreciation and understanding of architecture’s vital relationship to culture and society. As part of its transformational redevelopment in 2018, the RA will launch a new Architecture Studio in the restored Dorfman Senate Rooms in Burlington Gardens on 19 May.

Louisa Hutton RA, chair of the jury, said: “What I find most interesting about the architecture of Itsuko Hasegawa is the spirit of invention. Her buildings exude an optimism that could be interpreted as utopianism. Hasegawa seems to be speculating how one can change the world through architecture in employing the skills of the discipline—by designing and making buildings—in the service of society. As a jury we were unanimous in our decision, all agreeing that Hasegawa is an architect of great talent who has been under recognised. Through this prize we hope to bring her the much-needed recognition she deserves.

“During the process of deciding the shortlist for the RA Dorfman Award, the jury discussed what architecture means and what it can bring to people, how it has the power to effect change to societies and what it means for the Royal Academy to be awarding this prize.

“The shortlisted candidates say something about the condition of architectural production around the world. The architect in Japan, Go Hasegawa, is making very beautiful buildings with a strong feeling of materiality, while working with the same lightness of touch that we have all grown to love from Japanese architects. Whereas the architect in Ethiopia, Rahel Shawl, is working under totally different conditions. For her, the challenge seems to be how to support the culture of architecture in a country that doesn’t really have the infrastructure or finances for it. Further, she understands her role as a mentor particularly for young women who haven’t had the opportunities to engage with the profession. The five shortlistees represent architects from all over the world who are operating within very different cultural and economic contexts.”

Lloyd Dorfman, Trustee of the Royal Academy Trust, entrepreneur and philanthropist, said: “The announcement of the winner of the first annual Royal Academy Architecture Prize is a momentous occasion for the architectural profession. The winner reflects and heightens the RA’s role as a global advocate of architecture.

“The Dorfman Award recognises the best in architecture, highlighting talent around the world. I'm delighted to shortlist architects from Columbia, Ethiopia, Iran, Japan and The Netherlands. This truly eclectic range of talent represents the future of architecture. I look forward to the jury's decision in July at an event which will broaden the public’s understanding of architecture and hopefully inspire the profession.”

Kate Goodwin, Head of Architecture & Drue Heinz Curator, Royal Academy of Arts, said: “These new awards celebrate imaginative architecture that lifts the human spirit and the work of Itsuko Hasegawa certainly does so.

“We are delighted with the jury’s selection of both the Royal Academy Architecture Prize winner and the shortlist for the RA Dorfman Award from the list of nominations gathered from Royal Academicians and architectural figures worldwide. Together they open both the public and the profession’s eyes to the exceptional work of less widely recognised architects.

“Architecture has been a core element of the Royal Academy of Arts since its foundation in 1768, and these awards, coupled with the reinvigorated Architecture Programme and our new spaces offer, place the RA back at the heart of a global discourse on architecture and the key role it plays in our society.”

Royal Academy of Arts, London
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