The Ambiguity of Visual Perception and Cloudiness in SANAA’s Architecture

Jing Yang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A new strand of distinctive contemporary Japanese architecture represented by SANAA’s work is recognized as an extreme expression of materiality and formal austerity. SANAA’s architecture could easily be misunderstood as merely dematerialized abstract space, the outcome of an idealized vision. By analyzing the materiality and luminance quality of the Rolex Learning Center in Lausanne, Switzerland (2010) and the Louvre-Lens Museum in Lens, France (2012), this paper investigates the visual experience in SANAA’s work. It argues that visual perception within the buildings is profoundly ambiguous, and the ambiguous perception of space encourages active bodily engagement to explore and confirm that perception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-253
Number of pages18
JournalArchitecture and Culture
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • ambiguity
  • cloudiness
  • embodied experience
  • luminance
  • materiality
  • thinness
  • visual system
  • whiteness


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