The Royal Academy of Arts’ inaugural Architecture Prize winner has just been announced. This year, the accolade goes to Japanese architect Itsuko Hasegawa. 

One of Japan’s lesser-known architects beyond the country’s borders, Hasegawa was praised by the jury for her lightness of touch and spirit of invention. Having worked both within the forward-thinking Metabolist movement and with traditional Japanese architecture, Hasegawa certainly bridges a range of influences, which she translates delicately into her own work. Her best known buildings include the Shonandai Cultural Centre in Fujisawa, the Sumida Culture Factory and the Yamanashi Museum of Fruit. 

Selected by a panel comprising architect Richard Rogers RA, dean of Harvard Graduate School of Design Mohsen Mostafavi, BBC broadcaster Razia Iqbal, artist Conrad Shawcross RA and critic and curator Joseph Grima, Hasegawa was honoured for her ‘inspiring and enduring contribution to the culture of architecture’, explains the jury.

‘These new awards celebrate imaginative architecture that lifts the human spirit and the work of Itsuko Hasegawa certainly does so’, says Kate Goodwin, head of architecture and Drue Heinz Curator at the RA.

The winner of the Architecture Prize will join the winner of the Dorfman Award (the Royal Academy’s other new, major award  launched this year, focusing on new talent) in a public presentation in July, highlighting the institution’s role as a key global advocate for architecture.

This will follow the Dorfman’s announcement of its winner from a shortlist of five architects, including Arquitectura Expandida (Colombia), Go Hasegawa of Go Hasegawa and Associates (Japan), Anne Holtrop of Studio Anne Holtrop (The Netherlands and Bahrain), Rahel Shawl of RAAS Architects (Ethiopia), and Alireza Taghaboni of nextoffice (Iran).