Kengo Kuma Biography
Architect / Japan / Kengo Kuma & Associates / Works of Kengo Kuma
Kengo Kuma is a Japanese architect born in 1954 in Kanagawa, Japan. After completing his master’s studies in architecture at the University of Tokyo in 1979, he started working for a period at Nihon Sekkei and TODA Corporation. In 1987, he founded the Spatial Design Studio, and in 1990, his studio was established: Kengo Kuma & Associates.
He is one of the most significant contemporary Japanese architects and professors at the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Tokyo. Frequently compared to contemporaries Shigeru Ban and Kazuyo Sejima, Kuma is also noted for his prolific writings.
Kuma’s stated goal is to “recover the tradition of Japanese buildings” and reinterpret it for the 21st century. To achieve this goal, Kengo Kuma takes his inspiration from light and nature.
His poetics express the emotional content of materials, connected with their intrinsic characteristics in construction and Japanese traditional teachings. The study of place is an essential key to integrating a project with its surroundings not to disturb the balance but be a natural product of it built by human hands, as illustrated in the Great (Bamboo) Wall House near Beijing. Kengo Kuma has recently won the competition for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium.
His installations are also well-known, such as “Cidori” at Castello Sforzesco in Milan in 2007, in which Kuma expresses a graphic module in two or three dimensions with significant emotional impact. The relationship between graphics and architecture is one of the key themes he has investigated in his career, producing substantial results such as the Lotus House or Prostho Museum Research Center in Kasugai-shi.
Kengo Kuma’s work has been internationally acknowledged and received prestigious awards such as the Spirit of Nature Wood Architecture Award (Finland), the Grand Prize for JCD Design Award 1995 Cultural / Public Institutions for Kiro-san Observatory in Ehime, and the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s Art Encouragement Prize for Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum.
Solo exhibitions of his work include the traveling exhibition “Kengo Kuma, The Architecture Between Tradition and Innovation” in 2005, and, more recently, “Studies in Organic” in Tokyo in 2009.
Kengo Kuma Bibliography – Recommended Books
This bibliography consists of a selective list of books relating to Kengo Kuma’s Architecture.
Kengo Kuma: Complete Works
Description by publisher: The quintessential Japanese architect of today, Kengo Kuma, has forged a modern design language that artfully combines its traditional building crafts with sophisticated technologies and materials. Kenneth Frampton frames Kuma’s work in the context of post-war Japan’s flourishing architecture scene. From his iconic Water/Glass (1995) to the Nezu Museum in Tokyo (2009), each building is presented through descriptive text, newly commissioned photographs, and detailed drawings that reveal the refined architectonic vocabulary that characterizes Kuma’s buildings.
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Material Immaterial: The New Work of Kengo Kuma
Description by publisher: In our 2005 monograph Kengo Kuma: Selected Works, celebrated architect Kengo Kuma boldly declared that his ultimate aim was to “erase architecture” so that his buildings became one with their surroundings. In recent years he has pursued this goal by focusing primarily on the imaginative and unexpected use of materials, creating hypnotizing surfaces that evoke subtle visual sensations by highlighting their materiality. Only by pushing a material to the limits of its capabilities does Kuma believe its true nature can be revealed. Ingenious and yet deceptively simple, this realization represented a significant turning point in his desire to give his architecture a presence beyond merely eye-catching or sculptural.
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Kengo Kuma 2006-2012
Description by publisher: This magnificent, large-format monograph on the famed Japanese architect covers six years of theory and practice through an exhaustive look at over 60 projects, from large (V&A at Dundee, Sanlitun SOHO in Beijing) to small (Sake no Hana in London, Lake House). Kengo Kuma is known for achieving a new kind of transparency in architecture and is not bound by using only traditional light materials. His essay, Small Architecture, gives valuable insight into his view that great disasters, not the progress of technology, have been architectures driving force throughout history, with the most recent example being the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.
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OTHER BOOKS ABOUT KENGO KUMA’S WORK:
Anti-object: the dissolution and disintegration of architecture / Kengo Kuma; translated by Hiroshi Watanabe (AA Words, 2) London: AA Publications, 2008 ISBN 9781902902524
Archilab’s future house: radical experiments in living space / edited by Marie-Ange Brayer and Beatrice Simonot London: Thames and Hudson, 2002 ISBN 0500283575
Architecture now! Vols.2+3 / Philip Jodidio Koln: Taschen, 2002, 2004 ISBN 3822815942, ISBN 3822829358
Building a new millennium / Philip Jodidio Koln: Taschen, 1999 ISBN 3822863904 (includes Noh Stage in the Forest, Toyama City, Toyama, Japan, 1996 / Kengo Kuma)
Digital gardening [electronic resource] / Kengo Kuma Tokyo: Kajima Institute Publishing, 1997
Epigenetic scene: emerging architects in Japan / Royal Institute of British Architects London: RIBA, 1996 AA SHELFMARK: 72.036(52):92 ROY
Immaterial World: transparency in architecture / Marc Kristal New York: Monacelli Press, 2011 ISBN9781580933148
Kengo Kuma / edited by Yukio Futagawa; text by Kengo Kuma / GA Architect, 19 Tokyo: ADA Edita, 2005 ISBN 4871404277
Kengo Kuma: breathing architecture / Volker Fischer Basel: Birkhauser, 2008 ISBN 9783764387877
Kengo Kuma: recent project / edited by Yukio Futagawa Tokyo: GA International ADA Edita, 2009 ISBN 9784871406659
Kengo Kuma: selected works / Botond Bognar New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2005 ISBN 1568984685
Kengo Kuma: works and projects / Luigi Alini Milan: Electa Architecture, 2005 ISBN 1904313426
Materials and meaning in contemporary Japanese architecture: tradition and today / Dana Buntrock London: Routledge, 2010 ISBN 9780415778916
Materials, structures, details / Kengo Kuma Basel: Birkhauser, 2004 ISBN 3764371226
Matter in the floating world: conversations with leading Japanese architects and designers / Blaine Brownell New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2011 ISBN 9781568989962
BRO New stone architecture / David Dernie London: Laurence King, 2003 ISBN 1856693120
New wave Japanese architecture / compiled by Kisho Kurokawa London: Academy Editions, 1993 ISBN 1854901532 (includes Kengo Kuma
Next: 8th International Architecture Exhibition 2002: la Biennale di Venezia Padova: Marsilio, 2002 ISBN 0847825213
Vols. 1+2 Plan: Kengo Kuma, Michael Rotondi, Antonio Citterio, MGM, Benedetta Tagliabue, Ben van Berkel, Vito Acconci Bologna: The Plan, 2007
Shaking the foundations: Japanese architects in dialogue / edited by Christopher Knabe and Joerg Rainer Noennig Munich: Prestel, 1999 ISBN 3791320009
Staircases / Eva Jiricna London: Laurence King, 2001 ISBN 1856692035
Star architects: visionary architects of the twenty-first century / Julio Fajardo New York: Collins Design, 2010 ISBN 9780061968778 (includes work by Kengo Kuma)
Studies in organic: Kengo Kuma and Associates / Kengo Kuma Tokyo: Toto, 2009 ISBN 9784887063051 AA SHELFMARK: PROCESSING Ten by ten / 10 x 10 London: Phaidon, 2000 ISBN 0714839221