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Riken Yamamoto: Five decades of architecture

Riken Yamamoto

The recipient of the 2024 Pritzker Architecture Prize, Riken Yamamoto, has a portfolio spanning five decades. Located throughout Japan, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Korea and Switzerland, his work includes a diverse range of building types.

From private residences to schools, university buildings and city planning, explore Yamamoto’s work with this curated collection of his work. 

Hiroshima Nishi Fire Station (Hiroshima, Japan, 2000)

Transparency in form, material and philosophy remained the basis of Yamamoto’s architectural vision. Central to this approach was a regulation mandating that all buildings allow passage through their sites, fostering cohesion among adjacent plots and forging a sense of unity among neighbouring landowners. 

The Hiroshima Nishi Fire Station (Hiroshima, Japan, 2000) presents itself as an entirely transparent project, allowing both visitors and passers-by to peer into the central atrium, offering a glimpse into the daily activities and training sessions of firefighters. 

The Hiroshima Nishi Fire Station presents itself as an entirely transparent project, allowing both visitors and passers-by to peer into the central atrium. Photograph: Tomio Ohashi


Nagoya Zokei University (Nagoya, Japan, 2022) 

In 2022 the Nagoya Zokei University of Art and Design moved to the city of Nagoya. The new campus is located next to Meijo Park, the home of Nagoya Castle. Meijo Koen Station is right below the grounds. The building spans the station, which bisects the grounds into the east and west. In other words, the building itself is a bridge. The place that corresponds to the bridge girder is a large open space of 88m by 88m on the top floor. 

The Nagoya Zokei University of Art and Design is an arts school. The campus move presented an opportunity to consolidate and reorganise the nine courses of study at the university into five fields. 

The Nagoya Zokei University building itself is a bridge, reorganising the nine courses of study at the university into five 88m x 88m fields.


The Circle at Zürich Airport (Zürich, Switzerland, 2020) 

The Circle at Zürich Airport. Image courtesy of Riken Yamamoto and Field Shop

The Circle is neither a 19th-century city, nor a 20th-century city, intended for rational and economic ends, but an entirely new city for the new lifestyles of the 21st century. This is neither a fictional community such as Disneyland, nor a town organised solely for consumption, but a creative city that will exert a powerful influence on the rest of the world. 

The medieval cities of Switzerland that are the actual centres of everyday life for people today are extremely flexible, precisely because they retain their old structures. Two adjacent buildings may be used as one. The Circle too is such a city. 

Significant built works also include the Tianjin Library (Tianjin, People’s Republic of China, 2012), Jian Wai Soho (Beijing, People’s Republic of China, 2004), Ecoms House (Tosu, Japan, 2004), Shinonome Canal Court Codan (Tokyo, Japan, 2003), Future University Hakodate (Hakodate, Japan, 2000), Iwadeyama Junior High School (Ōsaki, Japan, 1996) and Hotakubo Housing (Kumamoto, Japan, 1991). 


“For me, to recognise space is to recognise an entire community. The current architectural approach emphasises privacy, negating the necessity of societal relationships. However, we can still honour the freedom of each individual while living together in architectural space as a republic, fostering harmony across cultures and phases of life.” – Riken Yamamoto, 2024 Pritzker Architecture Prize winner 


Full acknowledgement and thanks go to: for the information in this editorial. 

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