SANAA partner Kazuyo Sejima has selected Chinese architect Yang Zhao as her protégé for a year of creative collaboration as part of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. This is the first year that architecture has been included as a discipline in the program that pairs masters and emerging artists in the fields of dance, film, literature, music, theater and visual arts.
Yang Zhao, 32, started an architectural practice, Zhaoyang Studio, in 2007. His current projects include working on two buildings in the rural area of Yunnan Province, China. He has a master’s degree in architecture (with distinction) from the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University.
Sejima selected Zhao after a global search, which identified three of the world’s leading young architects as finalists. Over the course of a year, Zhao will work on Home-for-All, a project created by Sejima and other leading Japanese architects in response to the housing crisis following the devastation caused by the 2011 tsunami in Japan. Home-for-All is providing communal gathering places at temporary housing sites for displaced people. Zhao will join the teams of architects, designers, students, and tradesmen who incorporate the wishes of the community when constructing the temporary buildings.
“Yang Zhao puts much care into each of his projects, which are most often located in the outskirts of the city, so that they have a relationship with their context. I look forward to seeing what he would bring to the project in the Tohoku region,” Sejima said.
Of the mentorship, Zhao said: “It’s a gift, but also a job. It’s an honor, but also a mission. My objectives are to experience a challenging and creative collaboration process with Sejimasan, to learn from the design culture in Japan, and to make my contribution to the whole reconstruction project,” he said.
“In 2002, our first visual arts pair was architect Álvaro Siza and his protégé Sahel Al-Hiyari. The richness of their year together and the urging of our advisory panels over the past few years have led the Arts Initiative to add architecture as a seventh discipline,” said Rebecca Irvin, head of philanthropy at Rolex. “We are honored to have Sejima join us as the first architecture discipline mentor and look forward to her collaboration with this talented young professional.”
Zhao and Sejima join six other mentoring pairs in the 2012-2013 cycle, including:
Each protégé receives 25,000 Swiss francs to support participation in the program. At the conclusion of the mentoring year, he or she is eligible for an additional 25,000 Swiss francs for the creation of a new work.
The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative was founded in 2002 to encourage talented individuals through a unique program of one-to-one mentoring with a major figure in their artistic discipline. Over the past 10 years, the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative creative community has expanded across continents and cultures, and now includes more than 80 major creative artists of different generations and backgrounds.
Past mentors are: John Baldessari, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Trisha Brown, Sir Colin Davis, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Brian Eno, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, William Forsythe, Stephen Frears, Sir Peter Hall, David Hockney, Rebecca Horn, Anish Kapoor, Jiří Kylián, Toni Morrison, Mira Nair, Youssou N’Dour, Jessye Norman, Martin Scorsese, Peter Sellars, Álvaro Siza, Wole Soyinka, Julie Taymor, Saburo Teshigawara, Kate Valk, Mario Vargas Llosa, Robert Wilson, Zhang Yimou and Pinchas Zukerman.
Past protégés are: Sahel Al-Hiyari, Antonio García Ángel, Aditya Assarat, Edem Awumey, Nahuel Perez Biscayart, Josep Caballé-Domenech, David Aaron Carpenter, Selina Cartmell, Alejandro Cesarco, Lara Foot, Ben Frost, Masanori Handa, Nicholas Hlobo, Annemarie Jacir, Sang Jijia, Julia Leigh, Federico León, Aurelio Martínez, Josué Méndez, Celina Murga, Susan Platts, Anani Dodji Sanouvi, Junaid Jemal Sendi, Lee Serle, Tracy K. Smith, Jason Akira Somma, Matthias Weischer, Tara June Winch and Maya Zbib.