Kengo Kuma, a Japanese architect, sees in architecture a frame of nature that bridges people with the environment. His buildings are related to the Asian tradition and to nature, using light and natural materials to produce a new kind of transparency. Kuma established Kengo Kuma & Associates in 1990. Among his major works are Kirosan Observatory, Water/Glass (aia Benedictus Award), Stage in Forest, Toyoma Center for Performance Arts (Architectural Institute of Japan Annual Award), and Batomachi Hiroshige Museum (Murano Prize). Recent works include Nezu Museum Tokyo, Yusuhara Marche and Wooden Bridge Museum, Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center, Nagaoka City Hall Aore, etc. Outside Japan, Besançon Music Center and frac Marseilles have been recently completed.
Kengo Kuma studied inTokyo and New York. Since 2009 he is professor at the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Tokyo. He is a prolific writer and many of his books, such as ‘The Origins of Materials’ (Graphic sha, 2008) have also been published in English.
Date of presentation24 Sep, 2013
Further InformationCV Kengo Kuma
Review - Constructing the void
“Constructing the void” could sum up Kengo Kuma’s two-pronged approach to architecture. Both the apparent fragility and audacity of his façades are striking, yet it is the space between these playful tectonics that is most significant. Indeed, Kuma is most interested in the empty, immaterial space that can be charged with meaning.
The void is a communication place that both brings people together and sets the building into harmony with nature. Especially the latter is a major concern for Kuma, who witnessed the destructive power of the March 2011 Tsunami on his very own buildings.
The local material found near a building site is always the starting point for Kuma’s architecture, regardless if this material be wood, adobe, straw, bamboo, paper or plastic. Through rigorous prototyping, often in collaboration with his students, the possibilities of the material are tested before being applied full scale. Though often he prefers traditional materials, whose properties have sometimes become half-forgotten, Kuma is never shy to be modern, openly embracing digital technology to push the boundaries of the possible. This has culminated in such projects as the Water Branch House, composed of modular polyurethane bricks filled with water, or a wooden temple shrine clipped together by magnets.
The architecture of Kengo Kuma can be radically innovative, yet it is always rooted in that Japanese sensibility which strives to create the maximum effect with a minimum amount of material.
Julia Hemmerling & Matthew Tovstiga