Where to see the work of Kengo Kuma 隈研吾
The architect who combines tradition with the future
Discover the achievements of Kengo Kuma, one of the major contemporary artists in Japan. His style is essential today in Paris, Shanghai and Dallas, but it was first seen in the urban and rural landscape of Japan, helping traditional Japanese architecture to enter the next century.
Born in 1954 in Yokohama, Kengo Kuma is a graduate of architecture at the University of Tokyo. After his time as a researcher at Columbia University in 1985, he then founded the architectural firm Kengo Kuma and Associates. He is currently Professor at the University of Tokyo, and meets the multiple demands from both Japan and around the world.
Kengo Kuma's working philosophy is this: respect the natural environment rather than dominate it, including limiting the height of buildings and using the resources available on the site. His aim is to reinterpret traditional Japanese architecture, making it relevant in the 21st century.
Here are some places to see the works of Kengo Kuma in Japan:
- Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum (Kochi Prefecture)
This wooden bridge connects two public institutions of the city of Yusuhara, previously separated by a road. Marrying curves of the valley of the island of Shikoku, the bridge is not only a passageway, it also serves as housing and artists' studios. The structure's cantilever is typical of the traditional architecture of Japan and China.
- Water / Glass (Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture)
Now this is what you call a sea view! An example of a structure that in harmony with its environment. Where does the glass end and the ocean begin? It's like a piece of the Pacific has crystallized in this mineral villa, with the dining room floating like an island of glass. Kengo Kuma was inspired by the imperial villa of Katsura , near Kyoto, to design this extension of nature.
- Iiyama Nachura Cultural Hall (Nagano Prefecture)
Kuma has tapped into the wisdom of ancient Japanese people used to the snow to create a large wooden canopy roof that serves the municipal center of the city of Iiyama. The canopy is supported by a structure combining wood and steel, while the use of Japanese handmade paper (washi) helps create an intimate atmosphere, unusual for this type of establishment. The materials were produced locally, and the facades have all been made with Japanese larch wood.
- Plastic House (Tokyo)
A private residence, that of a mother (writer) and son (photographer). If the material used here - plastic - is not as conventional as his other buildings, it is because it has common characteristics with bamboo and rice paper, traditionally used in Japanese architecture. The space, relatively small, is open, like the roof terrace or the ground floor, which is extended by an outdoor tea room.
- The Tokyo Olympic Stadium
This, you still have to wait to see: the main enclosure of the 2020 Olympic Games with a capacity of 60,000 seats, it will host the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games! Always concerned about coexisting with the environment, a special feature is the green balconies circling the stands as a mirror to the surrounding vegetation. The project was subject to time and cost constraints set by the Japanese government. The stadium should be ready in November 2019 (the opening of the Olympics will be held July 24, 2020), at an estimated cost of 149 billion yen (1.3 billion euros). This is a dream project for Kengo Kuma. As a child, the Yoyogi Stadium, built for the Olympics in 1964, first inspired him to become an architect...
- See also: the Nezu Museum (Tokyo)
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