Kengo Kuma wants ‘a softer, more feminine design’


The centerpiece of Japan’s delayed 2020 Tokyo Summer season Olympics, the Japan Nationwide Stadium, was meant to mirror a brand new mind-set about massive scale structure. The latest resolution to ban spectators from the Olympics signifies that this centerpiece will proceed to face largely empty even when the video games start later this month.

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[Photo: courtesy Taschen]

For its architect, Kengo Kuma, the excessive profile vacancy is probably not a lot of a hassle. His agency, Kengo Kuma and Associates, is now one of the vital famend in Japan, and the brand new stadium, empty or not, is one thing of a crowning achievement. Nevertheless it’s removed from a typical mission for Kuma, whose total portfolio of labor is explored in a brand new ebook from Taschen, Kuma, Complete Works 1988–Today, cowritten by Kuma and Philip Jodidio. From its early years, the agency went far and vast for initiatives, designing in far-flung reaches of Japan and exploring structure at practically each scale.

With a concentrate on supplies and making use of conventional craft to fashionable constructing sorts, Kuma has established a flexible agency that’s as comfy designing a significant sports activities stadium as it’s devising small civic areas for rural communities.

Right here, in written responses to questions from Quick Firm, Kuma explains his inspiration and hope for the Japan Nationwide Stadium and the way he sees the pandemic influencing a transfer away from the “massive robust containers” of city structure.


Quick Firm: Kenzo Tange’s Yoyogi National Gymnasium, constructed for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, was one in all your inspirations for turning into an architect, and now your new Japan Nationwide Stadium has change into nearly its architectural counterpoint. When taking up this mission, what affect did Tange’s constructing have in your design, and the way did you search to create one thing fully totally different?

Kengo Kuma: Kenzo Tange and his Yoyogi Gymnasium are a logo, or a by-product, of a interval of enlargement and excessive financial development–represented in its high-rise, onerous, and masculine design. As for the Japan Nationwide Stadium, I aimed to mirror our personal time. Excessive development is now over, with a shrinking and growing old inhabitants, and other people everywhere in the world are paying more consideration to conserving and nurturing the setting than ever earlier than. I’m transferring in the direction of a softer, or more feminine, design in a approach, and the brand new stadium represents that pattern.

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Yusuhara Neighborhood Library, Yusuhara, Kochi, Japan, 2018. [Photo: © Masaki Hamada/Kawasumi Kobayashi Kenji Photograph Office/courtesy Taschen]

Your agency launched in the course of the economic bust of the early 1990s in Japan, main you to hunt out work past the large cities. What impact do you suppose that had in your strategy to design, and why do you suppose it’s vital for architects to look past the large cities and massive commissions?

Having labored on quite a few initiatives within the countryside, I started to consider the significance of circulation amongst structure, nature, and human beings. “Circulation” grew to become one in all my goals in structure.

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Yusuhara Wood Bridge Museum, Yusuhara, Kochi, Japan, 2010. [Photo: © Takumi Ota Photography/courtesy Taschen]

Wooden is a significant component in your work, particularly the standard craftsmanship of woodworking, carpentry and joinery. Why do you suppose it’s vital to maintain these conventional types of constructing alive in fashionable initiatives, even at bigger scales?

It will be significant as a result of massive constructions begin from small constructions.


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GC Prostho Museum Analysis Middle, Kasugai, Aichi, Japan, 2008–10. [Photo: © Daici Ano/courtesy Taschen]

Your work appears to pay very shut consideration to supplies–the GC Prostho Museum Research Center relies on the joints of a picket toy, and the Komatsu Seiren Fabric Laboratory makes use of new carbon fiber to enhance the constructing’s earthquake security. What are the primary components that information your materials selections?

I by no means resolve on supplies in the beginning. I hold the dialogue going with the shopper, the native individuals and all of the designers in the course of the strategy of designing and examine the situation as fastidiously as doable to know what materials(s) could be most applicable.

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Yusuhara Neighborhood Market Yusuhara, Kochi, Japan, 2009–10. [Photo: © Takumi Ota Photography/courtesy Taschen]

You will have had an extended and productive working relationship with the small city of Yusuhara, designing a community market hall, a public library and a museum about bridges, amongst different initiatives. What makes you need to hold designing initiatives for this neighborhood?

Fortuitously, I’ve been in a position to construct up a agency relationship with the city. I believe gaining a way of belief with individuals is essential. Within the case of Yusuhara, though it was an remoted city in a deep forest of Kochi, the individuals there are stuffed with delight, and I got here to like their spirits. I’ve accomplished my greatest to satisfy their expectations.

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Daiwa Ubiquitous Computing Analysis Constructing, College of Tokyo, Hongo Campus, Tokyo, Japan, 2010–14. [Photo: © Takumi Ota Photography/courtesy Taschen]

Within the afterword of the ebook, you criticize the “massive robust containers” which have made up a lot of the structure in cities within the late twentieth century. If the pandemic is pushing us to suppose in another way about how we stay, what new kinds do you count on to exchange these massive robust containers?

I believe that the pandemic has led to a significant ‘mannequin change’ in our way of life, maybe the primary since people settled in a single massive place to have a tendency crops and cultivate animals to work. I believe individuals will start to go away massive cities and disperse into many small “bases”–it could be excellent if everybody may have a small base in several areas and transfer between them season by season.