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Japanese legend wins RA's inaugural architecture prize

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Japanese architect Itsuko Hasegawa has been named as the winner of the Royal Academy’s first-ever architecture prize in recognition of her ‘inspiring and enduring’ contribution to the culture of architecture

Described by the judging panel as ‘one of Japan’s most important architects since the Second World War’, the 76-year-old remains largely under-recognised ‘despite her significant contribution to modern architecture, both in her home country and around the world’.

Hasegawa began her career working with Japan’s Metabolist group of architects, including Kisho Kurokawa, Fumihiko Maki and Kenzo Tange – architects known for combining ideas about architectural megastructures with organic and biological design.

She went on to collaborate at the Tokyo Institute of Technology (1971-78) with a very different design influence, Kazuo Shinohara.

Hasegawa set up her own design studio in Tokyo, the Itsuko Hasegawa Architectural Design Studio, in 1976, renaming it the Architectural Design Studio in 1979.

An honorary fellow of the RIBA, her most famous buildings are the Sumida Culture Factory (1994), the Yamanashi Fruit Museum and Garden (1995), the Niigata Performing Arts Centre (1998) and the controversial Shonandai Cultural Centre project, which she won following a design competition in 1987.

The jury for the prize, which is backed by the Dorfman Foundation, was chaired by the architect and Royal Academician Louisa Hutton alongside Richard Rogers, Mohsen Mostafavi, BBC broadcaster Razia Iqbal, artist Conrad Shawcross and critic and curator Joseph Grima.  


The Royal Academy also announced the shortlist for the first RA Dorfman Award – a separate accolade championing architectural stars of the future from around the world.

The Dorfman Award finalists

•    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)

In July, the academy will host a week-long public celebration of architecture which will include the selection and announcement of the Dorfman Award winner and a talk by Itsuko Hasegawa. 

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