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“I’m a kind of iguana. But I’m the kind of iguana that travels.”

So says architect Ryue Nishizawa, one half of SANAA, the creative partnership he shares with Kazuyo Sejima, about the “Galapagos Syndrome” — the term used to describe Japan’s relative isolation from global trends and the resulting incompatibility of things Japanese with the rest of the world. While the characterization may be apt for Japan’s mobile phone industry, in the world of contemporary architecture Japan is currently at an unprecedented peak of global acclaim and influence.

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