The award, regarded as Nobel equivalent, carries a grant of $1,00,000

The Pritzker Prize, considered the highest honour in architecture and regarded by many as equivalent to the Nobel Prize, has been awarded to the Japanese duo Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, partners in the architecture firm SANAA.

The two architects, who got the award for 2010, have been working together for more than 15 years. They have designed many critically acclaimed buildings across various cities in the world. Notable among them are the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art at Kanazawa in Japan, DeKunstlinie Theatre, Almere, in Netherlands, Rolex Learning Center, Lausanne, in Switzerland and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York.

Unlike other contemporary architecture that is bombastic and rhetorical, the works of Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa are refreshingly straightforward and seek the essential qualities of architecture, commended the jury. Their buildings may appear deceptively simple, but behind their economy of form and lightness in the facade, is the unique, ingenious, experientially rich and inspirational fresh design approach. It always offers “new possibilities within the normal constraints of an architectural project as it systematically takes the next step. They use common, everyday materials while remaining attuned to the possibilities of contemporary technology,” the jury further appreciated.

The current works of these two architects include the Hyundai Factory, Seoul, in Korea and the House for China International Practical Exhibition of Architecture, Nanjing.

Sejima was recently appointed director of the famed and prestigious Venice Biennale's 12th Annual Architecture Exhibition. The duo has earlier won manyawards, including the Mario Pani Award, Mexico.

“With this prize I will continue to make wonderful architecture,” responded Sejima to the news about the award. Pointing to the openness in their design, she added that it “is important for a new generation of architecture.” Nishizawa finds the award motivating. “Every time I finish a building I revel in possibilities and at the same time reflect on what has happened… this wonderful prize has given me a dynamic energy that I have never felt before,” he added.

The Pritzker prize carries $100,000 in grant and bronze medallions and will be awarded to Sejima and Nishizawa on May 17 in New York.

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