Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Kengo Kuma 2: Houses

Japanese architect Kengo Kuma is both a professor of design and a practitioner. He is learned in the history of both Japanese and western art, and when discussing the roots of his work he cites both Zen and William Morris. Like Morris he thinks the goal of architecture is to shape spaces within which people can flourish. I think his goals come out most clearly in these three houses, all completed recently on wooded sites in Japan. (Post on his public work here.)

Above and at top, a house called Water-Cherry, completed this year.

Although much of his work has a modernist look, he considers himself an anti-modernist in spirit. He loves natural materials and small structures at a human scale. He once said that his ideal project
would be to rebuild downtown Tokyo, the past Tokyo, to rebuild it with the streets, trees, all on a human scale.
Above and below, Extend to Forest.

Kuma says that in his practice they always bring samples of the material they work with into the studio to think with:
We always bring the material ourselves to the studio. Of course we use computers for design, but we always have the material itself in the studio. The conversation about the material can give many hints to our design. . . . The secret to my design is that from the beginning of our design process, I'm thinking about what is the material for the building, what is the finish of the building.
Below, pictures of my favorite Kuma house, PC Gardens, a windmill or cross plan house on a cliff by the sea, built of precast concrete slabs covered with wood veneer. The fusion of Zen and glass-paneled modernism seem perfect.

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