kazuyo sejima has selected yang zhao as the first architecture protégé as part of the rolex mentor and protégé arts initiative. it is the first year that this discipline has been included in the program that pairs masters and emerging creatives in the fields of dance, film, literature, music, theatre and visual arts. sejima chose zhao from a shortlist of three of the world’s leading young architects (see all of the finalists here). for one year, zhao will work alongside sejima on the ‘home-for-all project’ which she has developed with other leading japanese architects in response to the housing crisis which was a result of devastation caused by the 2011 tsunami in japan. with the ‘home-for-all’ team of architects, designers, students and tradesmen, zhao will help address the wishes of the community through the construction of temporary buildings.

yang zhao
‘niyang river visitor center’ by yangzhao studio and  standardarchitecture, linzhi, tibet
see designboom’s coverage of this project here



yang zhao puts much care into each of his projects, which are most often located on the outskirts of the city, so that they have a relationship with their context. I look forward to seeing what he will bring to the project in the tohoku region,‘ said sejima.


of being chosen for the mentorship, zhao said: ‘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.’


yang zhao, 32 begin his architectural practice, zhaoyang studio in 2007. he is currently working on two buildings in the rural region of china’s yunnan province. he holds a master’s degree in architecture (with distinction) from the graduate school of design, harvard university.

yang zhao
‘niyang river visitor center’ by yangzhao studio and standardarchitecture at ground level



zhao and sejima join six other mentoring pairs in the 2012-2013 cycle, including:
• dance mentor lin hwai-min and protégé eduardo fukushima
• film mentor walter murch and protégée sara fgaier
• literature mentor margaret atwood and protégée naomi alderman
• music mentor gilberto gil and protégée dina el-wedidi
• theatre mentor patrice chéreau and protégé michał borczuch
• visual arts mentor william kentridge and protégé mateo lópez


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 new work.