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Events - 06.23.2021

The World of Kengo Kuma – New Form of Encounter between Tradition and Modernity in Architecture

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06.23.2021 (Wed.)


JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles YouTube Channel

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JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles and the Consulate-General of Japan in Los Angeles are pleased to host an online conversation with a world-renowned architect, Kengo Kuma. In these unprecedented times where humanity must address global climate change, natural disasters (a topic introduced through the “Designing with Disaster” exhibition) and the COVID-19 pandemic, this special event considers Kuma’s groundbreaking work to explore the question: how can architecture help humans coexist with nature and each other?

Kuma is known for his distinctive designs that reinterpret traditional Japanese aesthetics and aim to re-balance the relationship between humanity and the environment. Long before “sustainable design” became an architectural trend, Kuma has been using local materials and designing for energy efficiency and symbiosis with the natural landscape. In his works, Kuma has developed his philosophy that architects and the structures they build should be humble above all – developing their “modest” designs slowly, methodically, and in constant conversation with the environment and the needs of human life. This ground-up approach is in stark contrast to the top-down designs of many star architects, making Kuma’s designs all the more relevant for an era where cities need to adapt and serve their citizens and the environment in new ways.

In this special webinar, Kuma reflects on some of his works, including the Japan National Stadium, which was completed in November 2019 and will be featured at the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, and discusses the themes and messages conveyed through his designs.

*To watch the video in full screen, please click on the image above, then click on the YouTube icon on the lower right-hand corner.

Akagi Shrine

JHSP © Rafaela Netto

Speaker Profile

© J.C. Carbonne

Kengo Kuma
Kengo Kuma was born in 1954. Before establishing Kengo Kuma & Associates in 1990, he received his Master’s Degree in Architecture from the University of Tokyo, where he is currently a University Professor and a Professor Emeritus. Having been inspired by Kenzo Tange’s Yoyogi National Gymnasium, built for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Kengo Kuma decided to pursue architecture at a young age, and later entered the Architecture program at the University of Tokyo, where he studied under Hiroshi Hara and Yoshichika Uchida.

Read more.

During his Graduate studies, he made a research trip across the Sahara, exploring various villages and settlements, observing a unique power and beauty. After his time as a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University in New York, he established his office in Tokyo. Since then, Kengo Kuma & Associates has designed architectural works in over twenty countries and received prestigious awards, including the Architectural Institute of Japan Award, the Spirit of Nature Wood Architecture Award (Finland), and the International Stone Architecture Award (Italy), among others.

Kengo Kuma & Associates aims to design architecture which naturally merges with its cultural and environmental surroundings, proposing gentle, human scaled buildings. The office is constantly in search of new materials to replace concrete and steel, and seeks a new approach for architecture in a post-industrial society.

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