Yang Zhao, protégé

Kazuyo Sejima has selected Chinese architect Yang Zhao as her protégé for a year of collaboration as part of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, in the first year architecture is included in the program.

After a global search, Kazuyo Sejima has selected Chinese architect Yang Zhao as her protégé for a year of 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 programme that pairs established professionals and emerging voices in the fields of dance, film, literature, music, theatre and visual arts.

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 provides 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.

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. Of the mentorship, Zhao remarked: "It's a gift, but also a job. It's an honour, but also a mission. My objectives are to experience a challenging and creative collaboration process with Sejima-san, to learn from the design culture in Japan, and to make my contribution to the whole reconstruction project," he said.
Top: Yang Zhao, pictured in front of the <em>Small House</em>, designed by Kazuyo Sejima in Tokyo. Above: Kazuyo Sejima, Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative's first mentor in architecture
Top: Yang Zhao, pictured in front of the Small House , designed by Kazuyo Sejima in Tokyo. Above: Kazuyo Sejima, Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative's first mentor in architecture
"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 honoured 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. Each protégé receives 25,000 Swiss francs (approximately 20,700 €) to support participation in the programme. 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 programme of one-to-one mentoring with a major figure in their artistic discipline.

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