Kengo Kuma - 7 Philosophies of His Famous Buildings

In an era of architecture where concrete jungles and glass towers dominate, there exists a man who designs to defy convention, teasing the boundaries of tradition. 

Kengo Kuma, a world-renowned architect, constantly leaves the entire field in awe with his innovative and sustainable designs.

7 Characteristics Of Kengo Kuma's Designs

  1. Use Of Natural Materials  
  2. Visual Lightness
  3. Light And Shadow
  4. Incorporating Tradition
  5. Emphasis on Context
  6. Sustainable Design
  7. Co-designing

Principles Followed By Kengo Kuma 

Architect Kengo Kuma is renowned for his works rooted in Japanese traditional designs, but combined with modern materials and techniques. 

1. Materiality

Kuma values natural materials such as wood and stone, incorporating them in his designs to create an organic connection to nature.

V&A Dundee Museum, Scotland
V&A Dundee Museum, Scotland

This museum is a striking, angular building that incorporates traditional Scottish materials such as stone and wood. It also uses Japanese elements such as the use of light and water, along with hundreds of precast concrete panels with a highly textured surface.

The building has been praised for its sensitivity to the surrounding landscape and its integration with the River Tay.

2. Lightness

Kuma aims to create light, airy spaces that are free from heavy materials and cluttered details. This helps to create a calm and serene atmosphere in his buildings.

Mori Nara Product Development Center
Mori Nara Product Development Center

Inspired by the form of a tree, this center has a glass facade with wooden pieces, representing the branches of the tree. The building receives plenty of natural light, especially in the higher floors.

3. Transparency

Kuma often uses glass and other transparent materials to create a sense of openness and flow between the interior and exterior spaces.

Okoyama University, Japan
Okoyama University, Japan

CLT was used for the inside without any insulation with gradational changes in the size of openings made of glass. The roof was a transparent glass canopy composite structure consisting of CLT and steel members.

4. Contextualism

Kuma's designs are often context-sensitive, adapting to the local environment and cultural context. This helps his buildings to blend seamlessly into their surroundings.

Minamisanriku 311 Memorial
Minamisanriku 311 Memorial

Due to its history of deadly earthquakes, the ground was raised 10 meters. It was built to reconnect the town with the sea, mountains, and the shrine around it. The structure resembles a Torii gate.

5. Sustainability

Sustainability is a key principle in Kuma's work, and he incorporates eco-friendly materials and technologies in his designs to minimize their impact on the environment.

LVMH Fashion Hub, Tokyo
LVMH Fashion Hub, Tokyo

This building is a massive, multi-level building that incorporates natural elements such as water and vegetation, creating a seamless connection between the interior and exterior spaces.

6. Collaboration

Kuma values collaboration with other architects, artists, and local communities, believing that this helps to create a richer, more nuanced final design.

Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center
Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center

The building is a collaboration between Kuma and local craftsmen. It is made up of a series of stacked boxes, each made of a different type of Japanese timber.

The building's facade is designed to filter light, creating a warm and welcoming interior, while also providing a connection to the surrounding environment.

Kengo Kuma's Education

In addition to his architectural work, architect Kuma is also a renowned teacher and writer. Kuma is also a professor at the University of Tokyo and has published several books on architecture and design. He is recognized as one of the leading architects of his generation, and his work continues to inspire and influence the architecture community.

Kengo Kuma's work is characterized by a respect for tradition, a commitment to sustainability, and a desire to create spaces that are both beautiful and functional.

Kengo Kuma - 7 Philosophies of His Famous Buildings