Kengo Kuma (born 8th August, 1956) is one of the most significant Japanese figures in contemporary architecture. His reinterpretation of traditional Japanese architectural elements for the 21st century has involved serious innovation in uses of natural materials, new ways of thinking about light and lightness and architecture that enhances rather than dominates. His buildings don't attempt to fade into the surroundings through simple gestures, as some current Japanese work does, but instead his architecture attempts to manipulate traditional elements into statement-making architecture that still draws links with the area its built in. These high-tech remixes of traditional elements and influences have proved popular across Japan and beyond, and his recent works have begun expanding out of Japan to China and the West.
When Kengo Kuma's concept for the new Victoria and Albert Museum of Design (V&A) in Dundee, Scotland, was unanimously chosen as the winning design in late 2012, the jurors had stated that the proposal has been "subject to exhaustive scrutiny, including having external assessors do a detailed examination of projected costs." They stated that they "did not have to exclude any of the submissions on grounds of affordability." It is now reported, a little over two years later, that the original £45million budget has now exceeded £80million in spite of the fact that the building has already been 'redesigned' once in order to try to reign in soaring costs.
Five practices have been selected to move on to the second stage of the Sydney Modern Project, a $450 million expansion of the Art Gallery of New South Wales (NSW). Of the twelve firms invited to participate in the competition, the five that will advance are: Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA; Kengo Kuma & Associates; Kerry Hill Architects; RMA Architects (Rahul Mehrotra Architects); and Sean Godsell Architects.
The latest obstacle in a tumultuous project history, figures released by Dundee City Council predict that Kengo Kuma and Associates' V&A museum in Dundee will cost an extra £31 million. Since unanimous selection by a competition jury in 2010, the project has been plagued by budget concerns, prompting a relocation from the original waterfront on the River Tay to a site further inland in 2012. Described by the V&A as "much more than just a building," Kuma's V&A Dundee is now slated to welcome the public in 2018, three years later than originally planned. Learn more about the delays after the break.
What influence do art and space have on the contemporary architectural design process? MoMA's most recent exhibition on architecture and design Conceptions of Space strives to answer this question. Themed under the umbrella of spatial relations, Curator Pedro Gadanho ruminates on the subject in a broad and philosophical sense. The exhibition delves into the topic using an interdisciplinary approach, incorporating research from French philosopher Michel Foucault on the subject of the expanded field. The exhibition aims to explore the relationship between the development of space and its deep-seated roots in the creative arts.
In Kengo Kuma’s work you may see influences of light, transparency and materiality. But when visiting the Woodbury School of Architecture in San Diego, Kengo Kuma shared a few of his not so apparent influences, from Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Kahn to jazz music. Make sure to view “Knowing Kuma” to see the architect’s definition of architecture, materials and more.
As a part of his ongoing film series about Japanese architecture, French architect and filmmaker Vincent Hecht has created this visual exploration of SunnyHills at Minami-Aoyama by Kengo Kuma. Designed to resemble a bamboo basket, this pineapple cake shop is built using the traditional Japanese joint technique of “Jiigoku-Gumi.” The wooden latticework is meant to provide visual contrast with the concrete facades of the building’s neighbors.
As an accompaniment to their ongoing Sensing Spaces Exhibition in London, the Royal Academy of Arts has produced six wonderful films interviewing the architects involved in the exhibition, unearthing what motivates and inspires them as architects, and what the primary themes of their exhibition projects are.
The above video features both Álvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura, who both designed their Sensing Spaces exhibits with the other in mind. Siza explains his preoccupation with the joints between the natural and the man-made through his Leça Swimming Pool complex, and the way the rock formations informed his interventions. He also introduces his one-time protégé Souto de Moura's Braga stadium as expressing the same understanding of the natural and man-made.
See videos from the 5 other Sensing Spaces participants after the break
This past week London’s Royal Academy of Arts (RA) celebrated the opening of, what many claim to be, one of the most “epic” and “enchanting” exhibitions of 2014: Sensing Space: Architecture Reimagined. With a series of large scale installations by some of profession’s most acclaimed architects, such as Eduardo Souto de Moura, and Kengo Kuma, the immersive exhibition creates an atmosphere that encourages visitors to become part of the experience and open their minds to the sensory realm of architecture.
"Architecture is so often the background to our lives," stated curator Kate Goodwin. "We often don't think about it - it's practical and functional, but when does it do something more?"
A preview of the installations, after the break.
The list of architects that have collaborated with Zhang Xin’s development company, SOHO China, reads like the roster of an architectural dream team (which includes Zaha Hadid, Yung Ho Chang, Bjarke Ingels, Kengo Kuma, Kazuyo Sejima, Herzog & de Meuron, Thom Mayne, David Adjaye, Toyo Ito and others). So it’s no surprise that the self-made billionaire lectured to a packed house at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design last Thursday. Xin spoke about her commitment to and love of design, explaining that her company’s mission is to bring a variety of architectural languages to China. And though SOHO’s projects are certainly experimental, Xin contends that her developer mindset actually helps meliorate the architect’s propensity to take the experiment too far—all without sacrificing the impressive and iconic forms of SOHO’s building portfolio.
After a slight redesign scaled the building’s stone facade back from the waters edge to reduce construction costs, Kengo Kuma & Associates has been granted planning permission from the city council’s development management committee to construct the V&A at Dundee. The “world-class,” competition-winning proposal will be the first V&A museum constructed outside of London, serving as an international center of design for all of Scotland.
The Royal Academy of Arts’ (RA) in London will soon be transformed into a multi-sensory “architectural maze” with the construction of seven installations by seven world-famous architects for the exhibit, Sensing Space: Architecture Reimagined. Participants, handpicked by curators Kate Goodwin and Drue Heinz, include Alvaro Siza, Eduardo Souto de Moura, Pezo von Ellrichshausen and Kengo Kuma.
Graphic designer and curator Kenya Hara has put together a three week-long exhibition in Tokyo focusing on the future of the Japanese house. Hara argues that the housing industry can no longer be isolated but must be combined with other industries, technologies and ideas, including energy, transportation, communication, household appliances, the "vision of happiness" pursued by adults, the representation of Japanese traditions and aesthetics as well as a future vision of health. All of these elements he hopes to present and discuss at the House Vision Exhibition where more than ten types of futuristic houses are on display and daily seminars with expert urban planners, developers, contractors, architects, telecom and even gas organizations have been taking place.
Read more about the exhibition after the break.
Tonight, Kengo Kuma will be lecturing at the Woodbury School of Architecture in San Diego at 6:30pm. Shortly following his Woodbury appearance, the Japanese architect will then make his way across the country to Columbia University’s GSAAP (Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation)Wood Auditorium in New York City to present his lecture, Minimize: Small Architecture after 3/11, on Wednesday the 10th at 6:30pm. Both lectures are free and open to the public.
Located in front of the Kamiari-mon gate in Asakusa, Kengo Kuma’s Culture Tourist Information Center serves as a beacon to the local area as well as housing programs to serve both tourists and the local community. This video via ja+u takes you through the 7 stacked volumes that make up the 8 internal floors that house a wide variety of programming ranging from meeting rooms to tourist information kiosks. The construction uniquely integrates HVAC equipment in the gaps between the stacked volumes. The interior structure of heavy timber members are left exposed which complement the dynamism of the vertical volumes, while the language of wood is continued onto the exterior by means of laminated timber louvers.
Reena Jana of SmartPlanet recently interviewed the award-winning, Japanese architect Hitoshi Abe on the lessons he has learned from the March 11, 2011 earthquake that destroyed his hometown in Sendai, Japan. Abe believes that the memory of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that hit the coast of northeaster Japan, triggering a tsunami that sent waves as far as six miles inland must remain fresh in our minds. His goal is to educate everyday citizens around the globe, as well as future generations, on how to better cope with large-scale natural disasters. Currently, he is serving as a guest-curator for a travel exhibition entitled Moving Forward: Life After the Great East Japan Earthquake. This exhibit brings to life the haunting reality of the devastation through a series of large-scale photographs and photographic essays that reveal individual stories of survival immediately following the disaster. The exhibit commemorates the victims and struggles of the survivors, while highlighting the reconstruction and recovery efforts. Continue reading for more.