The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative is adding architecture as a new discipline – with one of the profession’s most acclaimed names – Kazuyo Sejima, as the inaugural mentor.
The Japanese architect, who has won architecture’s leading international prizes over the past decade for buildings that combine elegant design with technical sophistication, will choose her protégé shortly and the mentorship is expected to begin almost immediately.
The protégé will collaborate with Sejima for a year on Home For All, an international project she established with other Japanese architects following the tsunami that devastated part of the country in March 2011. The idea is to design community meeting spaces for people who are living in emergency accommodation.
“I would like to pass on to the young architect what I gained from other architects throughout my career,” said Sejima. “I imagine a very dynamic relationship between the protégé and myself. How we will work is not something that I can determine myself as it depends very much on the energy and enthusiasm the protégé will bring as well.”
2012-2013 Architecture Mentor, Kazuyo Sejima
The addition of architecture will bring to seven the total number of artistic disciplines supported by the Rolex Arts Initiative. The other disciplines are: dance, film, literature, music, theatre and visual arts.
Two architects – Álvaro Siza, Mentor, and Sahel Al-Hiyari, Protégé – participated in the Rolex Arts Initiative’s first cycle (2002-2003), when architecture was featured within the visual arts discipline.
“From the inception of the Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, we recognized architecture as one of the most important creative disciplines, although, at the time, we considered it as part of the visual arts category,” said Rebecca Irvin, head of philanthropy at Rolex. “Over recent cycles of the Arts Initiative, the Advisory Board members [who recommend possible mentors and advise Rolex on the development of the programme] have encouraged us to consider architecture as a separate discipline from visual arts. We have been researching the idea of an architecture category for several years, consulting with practitioners and commentators in the field and listening to their advice. It was the right time to put this into practice.
“This extension of the programme will ensure that in every new cycle of the Arts Initiative, a young architect will have an opportunity to benefit from the guidance of a gifted practitioner over the course of the year,” she added.