The Suimei designed by Kazuyo Sejima: The Pavilion Tokyo 2021

The Pavilion Tokyo 2021 was an “exhibition” that used the city of Tokyo as its venue – nine “pavilions” designed by artists and architects were installed in different locations in central Tokyo to explore the possibilities of new urban landscape. Architect Kazuyo Sejima chose the Hama Rikyu (retreat villa) garden for her pavilion, a traditional park originally developed by the then Shogun Tokugawa family in the 17th century. Tokyo, much like other metropolis, is in a bay area and thrived thanks to abundant water. The Hama Rikyu garden is a “water garden” that is located where the Tokyo Bay and the Sumida River meet and reminds how deeply waterbodies such as oceans and rivers have been tied to everything that has been happening in Tokyo, from industry, dally life and recreation.

The Hama Rikyu garden is now surrounded by high-rise buildings, a stark contrast to the traditional garden. But this duality is the reality of today’s Tokyo, which was the reason why Sejima chose it for her pavilion. Against the backdrop of high-rise buildings, you can see winding water lanes (made of artificial reflective materials with small amount of water) that quietly run through the Hama Rikyu garden. Sejima got inspiration from an ancient landscaping technique called “kyokusui,” which was popular in the Heian era (8th to 11th century). The gardens in the Heian era leveraged very gentle curves to express the beauty of nature. The surface of the water lanes changes as time goes by, reflecting sun light, skies and things in the environment such as trees and flowers.

The title “suimei” means the state of the clear water that is glistening reflecting the Sun or the Moon. Sejima hopes that it would show ever-changing face Tokyo would lead to clean, pure/pristine future.