My story with Kengo Kuma
I had extreme honor and pleasure to meet esteemed architect Kengo Kuma and exchange ideas, experiences just as I was embarking on a path of becoming entrepreneur and establishing my own architectural studio.
Kengo Kuma , Japanese architect was born in 1954 in Yokohama, today he runs the Bureau Kengo Kuma and Associates in Tokyo and Paris. At the same time he is regular professor at Tokyo University. Behind him are many, many projects more than I want to count. For the time being I’m bringing some of the photos here.
Luckily for me I have met him twice to talk about architecture. The second time was in his Tokyo office. It was the opportunity to make an interview with him, parts of it I will pass on. I was really attracted by his work, mainly by his idea in each project that has a thread from the beginning to end.
Kengo Kuma does what I wrote earlier about, he creates space and not an object. He takes the material and shapes it to the form of space that will suit the internal needs and urban context. Allowing the space to “ flow” across the facade which almost always becomes a junction point not the separation of the inner of outer space. In the essence, each project is a human being and it doesn’t matter whether it’s in front or behind the facade. Look at the photos of the Frac house in Marseille and everything will be clear.
You may often wonder where the artist finds the inspiration to make one piece of art. I asked myself in Kuma’s case. I asked him how his growing up was and life in traditional Japanese home and did it influence his architectural route. The complete answer is below.
“My house was very different from the friends’ houses. I was born in the town of Yokohama a kind of suburbs of Tokyo. In year 1954, when I was born the Japanese suburbs were in development. They resembled the American suburb, a at home-cake. Most of my friends lived in such houses. My grandfather, who was a doctor, he has built our house as a country, weekend house in 1920’s while he was living in Tokyo. Until I was of age fifteen I didn’t like it (my house).
It was a great shame for me to live in such a house. Gradually I changed my mind. I started liking the natural texture of the dirt walls, wooden picture frames, walls made by rice paper. In its basis, the house wasn’t clean”, wasn’t sophisticated, but I started liking the roughness of these materials. This was the beginning of my career as an architect”
Commitment to these materials, is shown in his projects 26 years later done by Kengo Kuma and Associates.
It’s fascinating, how inexhaustible is this topic and I’m going to talk about it in some upcoming posts. Here, I would like to tell you a story about something that appeals to material. It’s light and shadow. Kengo Kuma used these elements very skillfully. Even though many designers and architects talk about them, in his objects you can clearly feel the planning of the relations between the light and shadow.
Hopefully you understand my desire to explore the work of this Japanese architect because playing with light in architecture is perhaps the hardest feature to master. At the same time emotion that area produces depends extensively on the light. Just think about spaces you visited and immediately you said that they are dark. How did you feel there? And how did you feel in the space where the beams protrude through the openings projected in such a way that the sun gets into the space? What impression did the entrance leave on you?
I think of the day light and shadow as architectural materials, because without these materials I can’t imagine the space.
The space is the contact point of these materials lights and shadows. I like using the small elements little bits of that always creates a shadow. The shadow gives a sense of harmony between the space and the human being. The human body remembers that feeling. The shadow gives the sense of security. That is very important.
Namely, when the material and the light meet in a specific area, only then I can create something.
We had the discussion over a cup of green tea and the tea ceremony is a Japanese tradition and very essential point to the understanding of the Japanese culture and the master would not be master of that if in the whole story is not added and the fourth dimension of space.
“The tea ceremony is a ceremony in a limited small area. We can learn a lot of things from the tea ceremony- how little space is uses, how to combine it with the larger elements and the like.
This is also an important element of the tea ceremony. By itself represents a long time sequence- our approach to home, entering through a small door, entering the masters of the tea ceremony. Tea ceremony is a design time. That is what is important.
The problem is that an architect thinks he is designing the space , but in fact he should also design space and time in the tea ceremony.”
Conversation we had after was published on the four sides of the magazine in A4 format so that this post a little to pass on everything but the elements and themes which we touched on will surely pass in the coming posts.