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Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima (born 1956) and Ryue Nishizawa (born 1966). Winners of Pritzker Prize 2010.

Kazuyo Sejima

Like in the West, Japanese society is aging fast. The population is decreasing. By 2050, it is expected that there will be 25 percent fewer Japanese people, which doesn’t mean that mega-cities are shrinking. On the contrary; young people escape the countryside to try their luck in Tokyo. What we Japanese can offer the world is the know-how to manage small spaces. It is part of our culture. In my case, I want to create buildings where people can find privacy and where they can feel connected to the outside. Small-space management also means we need to fine-tune how a room interacts with our bodies. A decreasing overall population will not automatically lead to bigger living spaces in Japan. The impact will be on our lifestyle, because we will need more foreigners in our workforce and they will influence us. I can see it in my office. Before, when we had only Japanese staff, nobody insisted on taking days off. Now we have many Europeans and, although the situation has not yet reached a point where the Japanese employees take longer vacations, the Europeans have nevertheless brought the idea of longer vacations to our work place. These types of changes will influence how we use our time and space in the future.

Ryue Nishizawa

I recently came to the conclusion that the sleeping room is connected to death – where you sleep is where you die. And I don’t mean it in a negative way – more like when the French use the word “vacance” to say “holidays”, although directly translated it could mean “emptiness”. The bedroom is the place where you always die a little bit, in order to be refreshed and reborn. Designated areas in my house will take that into consideration, will provide a diversity of moods and shades of darkness.

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