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EPFL building designers win Pritzker Prize

The Japanese duo behind the groundbreaking student centre at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) has won the 2010 Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa won their profession’s top honour for their use of light and transparency in buildings around the world.

The two are partners in the architectural firm SANAA, which designed the EPFL’s Rolex Learning Centre, which opened in February.

The jury lauded them "for the creation of buildings that successfully interact with their contexts and the activities they contain, creating a sense of fullness and experiential richness".

"The architecture of Sejima and Nishizawa explores the ideas of lightness and transparency and pushes the boundaries of these concepts to new extremes," Martha Thorne, executive director of the prize, said in a statement.

Last year's winner was Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, who has created a handful of meticulously crafted buildings at his alpine retreat, including his best-known project, Therme Vals, a luxury spa that opened in 1996 after a decade of work.

Other prominent Swiss architects include Mario Botta, modernist pioneer Le Corbusier and Herzog & de Meuron, the 2001 Pritzker winners and designers of the Beijing National Stadium.

The Pritzker Prize was established in 1979 by the Pritzker family, the Chicago-based clan that owns the Hyatt hotel chain, as a means of honouring a living architect whose works produce "consistent and significant contributions to humanity".

The prize – a bronze medallion and $100,000 (SFr107,000) – is handed out at a different location each year. The ceremony for Sejima and Nishizawa will take place on Ellis Island, New York, on May 17. and agencies

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