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Kazuo Sejima and the new spirit of the 12th Venice International Architecture Exhibition

Is it possible for people to “meet in architecture”? And what does this mean? Kazuyo Sejima is very clear on this point: in her view architecture should be considered not only as an object ­– like a house, or a bridge – but as a tool for communication.

Every work of architecture is a chance of building relationships between people. The spirit of this year’s 12th International Architecture Exhibition (29 August – 21 November) is very much influenced by this idea and by the the artistic talent of Kazuyo Sejima herself.

But who is this woman, the first one ever to be appointed director of the Biennale in Venice?

Born in Japan, in the prefecture of Ibaraki in 1956, in 1981 she took a degree in architecture at the Japan Women’s University and began working in the studio of Toyo Ito. In 1987, she opened her own studio in Tokyo. In 1995, together with Ryue Nishizawa, she founded SANAA (recently awarded with the 2010 Pritzker Prize), the Tokyo studio that has designed some of the most innovative works of architecture built recently around the world, from the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York to the Serpentine Pavilion in London. The recent Rolex Learning Center in Lausanne, Switzerland (March 2010) and a branch of the Louvre Museum in Lens (now under construction) are also major projects of SANAA.

Sejima has a completley new idea of an architecture that is liberated from any traditional background and deeply immersed in space. The exhibition reflects this ideal, and sets up an environment in which ideas and projects are free to circulate, meet and be re-shaped by visitors.

Among this year’s new features, for example, there’s the Architecture Saturdays a series of conversations and opportunities for discussion held weekly with architects, critics and figures from the world of architecture in Italy and abroad for the entire period of the Exhibition’s opening (see program). This will be an occasion for people, to meet and for the conversation on architecture do go on.

The 12th International Architecture Exhibition will be held from August 29th to November 21st, 2010, at the Giardini and at the Arsenale (preview August 26, 27 and 28, 2010), and in various other venues in Venice. The Best Western Premier Hotel Sant’Elena is located just a few meters away from the Giardini.

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