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Kengo Kuma, “From Concrete to Wood: Why Wood Matters”

Kengo Kuma, “From Concrete to Wood: Why Wood Matters”


That has never happened to me
before, where I step somewhere, and suddenly the
room gets quiet. Thank you. Good evening and welcome. I’m both thrilled and
humbled by the opportunity to introduce our guest speaker
this evening, Kengo Kuma. My name is Mark Mulligan. I’m an associate professor
in practice here at the GSD. I also want to confess
I’m a little bit nervous by this assignment. I don’t think I’ve ever spoken
to such a large crowd here. Usually I’m on the
steps somewhere. So I’m a little nervous
because, although I’ve known Kuma-san for many
years, and I consider him a friend and a
kind of mentor to me, it’s also possible that
many of you here also have known him for a long time. Over his nearly 30
years in practice, Kengo Kuma has attracted a
substantial international following among
architects and students. His global reputation
owes not only to his prolific, geographically
diverse, spectacularly photogenic, and experientially
rich body of built works, but also to the
unique voice embodied in many of his writings
on architecture. With the possible
exception of Arata Isozaki, probably no architect
in Japan today has shown greater dedication
to the development of critical theory and
discourse than Kengo Kuma. Beginning with early essays that
expressed his desire to, quote, “make architecture disappear,”
and more recently solidifying his theoretical positions
with a 2013 book, Anti-Object, which has been
translated, by the way, into English, Chinese,
and many other languages, Kuma has provided
insightful commentary to help us interpret
continuities in his work despite wide disparities in
context, scale, and tectonic expression. Even more to the point,
his underlying conception of architecture, not
as sculptural object, but as a fluid spatial
medium that connects us to our environment
speaks, I believe, to the aspirations of many young
designers today, including, I expect, some here
in the audience. His Tokyo-based firm
Kengo Kuma and associates currently employs more than
200 architects and designers and has around 100 projects
in some stage of development in Japan, the US, Europe,
South America, China, and elsewhere in Asia. Despite this scale of
operation, Kuma-san maintains personal
involvement in each project from beginning to end. This level of attention is
best understood, I think, when you visit his buildings. I actually counted, and, so
far, I’ve been to at least 18% of his projects in Japan–
12 in metropolitan Tokyo and six in more remote
provincial settings. These include simple structures
of wood, stone, and earth, luxury hotels, high-end retail,
exclusive retreats, also modest budget
spaces for students. The qualities that describe
representative spaces in each of these
works– modesty, calm, generosity, are precisely
those personal qualities that I ascribe to the architect. His works have received
countless awards from professional and
cultural institutions in Japan and around the world. In addition, Kengo
Kuma has been named an honorary fellow of the
AIA, the American Institute of Architects, an international
fellow of the RIBA, the Royal Institute
of British Architects, and an officer of the Order
of Arts and Letters in France. Since 2009, Kengo Kuma has been
a professor of architecture at the University of Tokyo. Now, so what else can I tell you
that’s sort of the resume, what insights can I introduce
at this point that will justify delaying,
by a few minutes more, the person you
actually really came to hear? So I’d just like to mention
two thoughts I came up with to use today. The first thought is a response
to tonight’s lecture title, “From Concrete to Wood–
Why Wood Matters.” We already know that
wood is dear to Kuma-san from seeing how frequently,
and how many guises, he uses it in his work. But he’s also a kind
of an evangelist for the virtues of wood
construction more broadly. Three years ago, he was the head
juror for international student design competition
called Retreat in Nature, whose
challenge was to design a 21st century sustainable
house for a rural site in Hokkaido, the
northernmost island in Japan. Kiel Moe and I teamed up to
advise a group of GSD students who went on to win this
competition with a design based on sustainability
principles inherent in wood, using it as biofuel, thinking
about carbon sequestration, low embodied energy in
practices such as local sourcing or recycling of wood, and so on. The design’s most
radical idea, however, involved replacing typical
concrete foundation walls with a solid wood
raft foundation made of recycled railroad ties. The GSD team was invited to
spend the summer in Tokyo working on
construction documents for the so-called Horizon House
with members and consultants of Kengo Kuma’s
office, And the house was completed in November 2013. In the end, the impulse to do
away with concrete foundations could not be perfectly realized
in the compressed construction schedule, I’m sorry to say. But I’d like to believe that
the idea’s audacity might have endeared us, in some
small way, to the head juror. The second thought I had is a
reflection on the experience that my students and I had
just this last week with one of Kuma-san’s frequent
collaborators, structural engineer Jun Sato. Professor Sato led
a workshop in which he challenged us to design
a pavilion structure that could produce something
called [japanese], in Japanese, which loosely
translates to forest light. It’s the kind of
dappled, flickering light that filters through tree
canopies in a light breeze, producing a kind of
magical, lively environment below, ephemeral
and ever changing. The film director Akira
Kurosawa was very fond of this kind of light. It played an important narrative
role in many of his films. I realized that
Kuma-san must have had this kind of vibrating
light in mind, somehow, when he designed so many
of the interiors I visited, ambiguously enclosed
in layers of glass, metal louvers, wooden
or bamboo screens. In these spaces, there
is a spiritual quality of liveliness, something
in Japanese that’s called [japanese], that reminds
us of the passage of time, and we must enjoy
the present moment. Inhale deeply. So let’s enjoy this
moment now by welcoming Kengo Kuma to the podium. [applause] Thank you Mark, for a very
deep, deep introduction. Today, I have many
slides, as I hope that I can share everything. There are more than 200 slides. And so then I have
many things to talk. But I was just talk
about my generation. I was born in 1954. In Japan, my generation was
called the fourth generation. The first generation,
Kenzo Tange, you have a big archive of
Kenzo Tange, was born 1913. So he is first generation. And the second generation is
Professor Maki, [inaudible]. Maki was 1928 [inaudible]
’31, [inaudible] ’33, so that kind of generation. The third generation
is [inaudible]. And my generation, [inaudible]
me, and [inaudible] is almost 1954, 1956,
something like that. And the [inaudible],
the [inaudible]. My, as Kengo Kuma, philosophy
came from two disasters. And it’s really
interesting article. The Kenzo Tange, he wrote, Kenzo
Tange and the Second World War was deeply related. And as a the Allies project, was
Hiroshima Peace Center, 1950. It’s a beautiful building. And it shows the Japanese
recovered from Second World War. And actually, Barack Obama
has visited that building last July. It was a moving
event for Japanese. And his speech was really
great, for those of you who know that speech. And I wrote the book, title,
Defeated Architecture, just after Hanshin
earthquake has in 1995. Mark has introduced
my book Anti-Object. Translated, you said, 2013,
it was translated to English. But Anti-Object is almost
written the same period after earthquake. And Defeated Architecture,
not translated yet, but as we are preparing
the translations, it’s as almost the same period. As a earthquake, and
my ideas Anti-Object or Defeated Architecture,
very much related. And then I want to start
form this building, as the [inaudible] museum. This was completed in
1999 in Ishinomaki City. Ishinomaki, that City
is just up North City, the north of Sendai. It was most destroyed,
by Tohoku earthquake. Almost 60% of the
town was destroyed, and 50,000 people died
only in that city– 15,000 people died
only in that city. So I want to show, as a project,
this is [inaudible] museum. But it is difficult to find. That is my, as a first idea
is illuminate the building, the landscape like that. So one third of
the building that’s on the ground, and two
thirds is underground. Plan-wise, there’s rivers,
canals, a cycling load. This is a part of
the cycling load. Actually, the
cycling load is here, as sloping down to the bottom,
as it’s sloping up again, so sections like that. This is the entrance. Actually it is very difficult
to find the entrance. It became a problem,
after completion. The clients, the
people complained, ah, where is the entrance? I said, don’t worry about that. And with the story
of the tsunami, the tsunami came from that
side, the ocean is that side, and destroyed those houses. It’s very, very sad. But the tsunami
stopped at my building. Is it because my
building has this shape? And luckily, my building
was not destroyed. But it was a very
shocking event for me. And just two weeks after
the tsunami, I went there. And I saw how nature is strong. This is the view from river. And this building is
the Hiroshige Museum. It is also in the up north area. And also, this building
was not destroyed. In that project, I want to
show a relationship with nature as what we want to re-create
in that the building. So the roof and the facade
are all by wood, local wood. But as a more important
thing about this building is that hole, the hole, which
connects town and nature. And in the Japanese village,
most of the village, the location is the edge
of the mountain, not far from the mountain, always,
and not in the mountain. Edge of the mountain. That is very necessary
for them because materials came from the mountain, and
energy came from the mountain because they didn’t have gas
company, electric company, of course, as use the timber
from mountain, for burning and cooking everything. And also, the agriculture, as
a mountain, is very important. There’s fertilizer
from the mountains. It was very necessary
for producing rice. And then, they called that
kind of mountain satoyama. Sato means village. Yama means mountain. And they respected
that mountain very much because, for their life, that
was very, very necessary. And then they lived
close to the mountain. And they built a shrine. That is a strong message. The shrine means don’t
destroy the mountain. Leave the mountain, is the
message from the shrine. But sadly, in 20th century,
they forgot the mountain– the Tokyo. And as everything
came from Tokyo in 20th century– materials,
energy, as fertilizer. And actually, [inaudible]
in the shrine. And this shrine
already [inaudible]. And as a discussion
between the client– client built the parking here. The mayor built
the parking here. And he said, the mayor said, as
a big entrance facing parking. But I said no. That’s because, if there
is a big entrance here, this side will become backside–
just the space for garbage, the space for service
parking, something like that. And that will kill Satoyama. And after a discussion,
finally, as we can have the entrance
facing Satoyama side. As I cut the building like that,
we call it torii the effect. You know torii, torii is an
arch in front of the shrine. And that arch is
sometimes more important than the building of the shrine. The building is working
like torii in some meaning, as I cut building, and
the framing the mountains, and the look of the
shrine from this entrance. And finally, this becomes the
main gate of the building. And I want to show again–
this is the cut, shrine, and the entrance. And material-wise, we did use
material from the village. And this site is
facing the mountain. And the main entrance is here. And this is a cut, as I created,
from the town to the mountain. And the rice paper is
[inaudible] the village, and the local stones,
and the local cedar. And design-wise, we designed
many screens and filter to create the a
super-juxtaposition layers. And that method was
inspired by artists. This museum is Hiroshige Museum. And Hiroshige is a 19th century
these [inaudible] artist. And he is known as
a method of just super-juxtaposition layering. And Frank Lloyd Wright,
who of course you know, he learned many
things from Hiroshige. And he wrote the
book, the Book of Tea. It was published
in states in 1906. Still, you can find that book. And he, since 1906 written
by [inaudible] Okakura. And Frank Lloyd Wright was very
much influenced by that book. And as a light, as
he, in his autograph he wrote, without two Japanese,
I could not create my art. One is a [inaudible] Okakura,
the author of Book of Tea. The second is the Hiroshige. And he learned the
method of juxtaposition, layering by Hiroshige. And then, for my Hiroshige
museum, it’s the same. The method of
super-juxtaposition of those screens,
there’s three layers of screens existing
in the building. And those were for the
roof, double layers. And double layers is
creating the komorebi effect, which, as mark has
mentioned before, komorebi is the first light. It’s the filter of
the light by leaves. And the next project
material is bamboo. The bamboo is my
favorite material. But it’s not an easy
material because bamboo is easy to crack. It’s a weak material,
in one sense. But I worked with a
structural engineer to create this
composite structure. It’s an injected bamboo trunk. Injected means we
insert steel as a angle into that, as a plank, and
pour the concrete that is to make this is a special post. And for the facade,
we are checking those options, and that this
is our first bamboo house. Don’t forget neighbors. Neighbors is a typical
Japanese houses. And the floors also. I call it the
[inaudible] floors, because to walk on the
floor is very comfortable. And the next bamboo
project is in China. Besides Great Wall, we try
to learn from Great Wall. Great Wall is not cutting
the landscape, following the landscape, and then whole
wings are landscaped like that. Don’t cut, and to keep green. The Great Wall is also here. This space is a kind
of in-between space. In between the
exterior and interior. And that type of space
is always my favorite. This is a semi-covered space. And sometimes it’s called
[japanese] in Japanese house. [japanese] is between the
main building and the gardens. And this such [japanese]
space, in between space. And the wood is, of course, is a
most favorite material of mine. But we tried to do some new
things, always, with wood. The chidori is a small
pavilion in Italy, in Milan. The construction
of this pavilion was hinted by this
toy, chidori toy. It’s a very old children’s toy. It has this joint system. Please look at this joinery. The three joints,
three types of joints. And if we turn this stick,
so we can fix that structure. It’s very simple. And we go to those
sticks to be Milan. And my student has
constructed by themselves. And after the Milan experience,
so we came back to Japan, and we decided to build a
bigger structure with Jun Sato. The Professor Jun Sato,
he came here last week. And he did a test of
this structural System And his conclusion is, we
need a six centimenters by six centimenters. And in Milan, three centimenters
by three centimeters. It is very, very thin. But this is just a
temporary structure. For permanent sturectures,
six centimeters needed. And I agree. OK, six centimenters
is still very tiny. And and this is the
completion of the building. The result and a column. The six centimenter by
six centimenter sticks are supporting the
building like that. And good thing for
the structure is so we could use this grid
for the box of exhibit. So we can show those
things in the box. And so, again, we didn’t use
any nails, or boards and glues, just the fixing system. Because the Japanese
carpenters, historically, they didn’t trust metal because
the life of metal is short, they thought. Not because of the money,
they didn’t trust metal. I think that this point
is very important. So they trust nature
as a philosophy of Japanese carpenters. And I like to use those
sticks, those tiny elements. And when I showed those
ideas to Charles Jenks– you know Charles Jenks? He said, new stick style. It is very interesting. And the “Stick Style”
Today was a famous book by– is it Vincent Scully book? As Jenks named my building,
the news stick style. And that this is a village. And the unit for this village
is bigger than a stick, unfortunately. But still I’ve want
to use the small unit. The assembly of the small
unit is very important. If we use the bigger
size glulam column, it is easy to make
this with embellish, but I don’t like that kind
of big size as a beam. I prefer to use a
smaller unit as possible. And that is because a small
factory of this village could produce those units. Now the bigger glulam is only
a bigger factory can produce. And we call it a domestic
production system– the small factories,
the artisan, as it can produce those things. And on the same village
is a another village, and so we designed a small
hotel inspired by this teahouse. The thatched roof is a typical
design they did for tea house. This was a kind of cafe. And it’s tiny, but it’s is a
cafe for the village people. And we did use thatch
for the facade. And so, to find the craftsmen
was very, very difficult. Even in that village, those
craftsmen had disappeared. Those traditional disappeared. So we should find
from other places. This is the interior. And next is a unique
client for us, Starbucks. The location is Tenmangu,
Dazaifu Tenmangu, was built in 919. Old temple. As I mentioned, torii
gate, the torii gate exists here, as does the
satoyama mountain is here. It’s always the
Japanese temple, shrine like that kind of location–
edge of the mountain. And this is main approach. The Starbucks is here. And it’s not interior
design, as they asked me to send the full building. What I did for that project
is to find the new [inaudible] construction system. And again, with
the professor Sato. This, as a structural
system, is more complicated than the grid system
I showed you before. Because we have
30 degree angles. It’s a diagonal system. So the diagonal system
for that building is to create the flow of space
into the bottom of the building because the building
itself is a very long shop. It’s a narrow and long building. And we want to create some kind
of flow to the end of the shop. Structurally, this
is very tough. Please look at this joint. This is, with
Japanese carpenters, it was a special idea
of Professor Sato that we could achieve
this very unique joint. And Professor Sato came
into the construction site often because sometimes
the carpenters forgot that this is a structure. And whenever he came to
the site, he was so upset. He claimed, this is a
structure and don’t forget it. The result that carpenters
make it just as decoration. Because it is very
complicated joint. But it’s a structural joint
supporting this building. And the next complicated
structures with Professor Sato is a Sunny Hills in Tokyo. This is that building. Compared with this,
Starbucks is easy because Starbucks is a one-story
building, supporting one floor, one is aloof. But this is a three
story building. And those are
supported by sticks. And as you see, the
floor is supported by this structural system. And for that building, Jun
Sato found a new joined system. That new joint system
is called jigoku gumi. Jigoku means hell. Gumi means joint. Hell joint. What’s the name? And he explains
the reason of name. Hell is, once it dropped to
hell, we can never return. And once it’s
fixed, never revert. That’s the reason of the name. And that jigoku gumi was used
for furniture, only furniture because it is too
complicated for a building. And the special furniture
makers, artisans were using that jigoku
gumi for furniture. It was a joint of furniture. But his idea that is, adapt that
system to the bigger building. And this is the first
jigoku gumi building, probably the first jigoku
gumi building in Japan. And this explains
the jigoku gumi. The jigoku gumi is basically
three layers as a joint system. If we only have two
layers, it is slidable. But if we add one extra layers,
it will not be slidable. And then it’s tightly fixed. This shows the three layers. And so we adapted the three
layers to the building. We brought that joint to France. Yure means swinging. It’s a very interesting contrast
between the classic masonry building and the very
light jigoku gumi building. Working with French carpenters
was very, very tough. [laughter] Hmm. [laughter] This is very Japanese project. It’s the Birch Moss Chapel. The location is Karuizawa. Karuizawa is a beautiful resort
town two hours from Tokyo. It’s known for the birch
forest, beautiful birch. Those birch. And so our idea is to integrate
birch forest with chapel. And that building is
supported by those posts. And the posts is a mix of steel
plate and birch, birch trunk. And this is the plan. This part is a chapel. It’s surrounded by the forest. And a partition is
slideable as a big glass. And then if the weather is
good, it is totally opened up. From top, the weekend, find
the location of the building. But here, the
border disappeared. And actually, here is
layer four glass partition. But it is difficult to find. The continuity is
basically created by the continuity of the floor. Moss is the material for floor. And the benches are transparent. And in the city, going
back to the city, as we also try to use
natural materials and also create
smallness in the city. The location is Asakusa. This is a very interesting
place in Tokyo. The temples, and the pagodas,
and the very interesting galleria. And our site is here,
just in front of gate. And it’s a model
for the competition. And the program is a 40
meters high building. It’s multi-functional. Our solution is several
of the houses stacking. Between the floor and the roof,
we can have a machine space. And also we can use the
inclination [inaudible] halves of small theaters here. And the rendering,
and the reality. Material-wise, it’s wood
again and sticks again. And the interior is like that. The stepping the floor is,
as I mentioned, is here. [inaudible] And the next project
is Nagaoka City Hall. I want to explain
the typical situation of the Japanese
middle-sized city. Nagaoka is two hours from
Tokyo by bullet train. The station is here. This used to be a
very active area. But now people are not
walking on the main street because motorization. Same as America, as big
shopping centers outside, the concert hall is outside. Of course, city
hall was outside. And there is a
vacant city center. This happens everywhere in
the world after motorization. And the solution is
an idea of the mayor. It’s find a site
close to the station and move the city hall from
the suburbs to the center. And he did a competition. And Professor [? mackey ?]
was the head juror of the competition. And he selected my idea. So we proposed city
hall with doma. It’s a Japanese word. Doma, like that. The doma is that kind of space. In the farmhouse we had doma. It’s a very interesting
in between space. It’s covered by earth,
which is important because it’s a working space. It’s a working space and also a
gathering space for the people. Tatami– you know tatami. Tatami is a typical
Japanese floor. But tatami is a kind of–
used for a ritual space. The tatami was used for here. But this space they
didn’t use so often. For some kind of ceremony
they did use tatami floor. But daily life
happened in doma space. And they love that
kind of spaces because it has a kitchen,
very beautiful kitchen. And they drink at
night, gather at night. But in 20th century,
so Western lifestyle came to Japan, so we lost this
kind of beautiful tradition. And my idea is brought back
doma as a public building. This is new doma space. It’s a [inaudible] floor. It’s earth. It’s luminous, and
the humidity of earth is very important for doma. If it is covered,
it is not doma. Because do means earth. Ma means space. Earth space is the
definition of doma. And it’s a kind of covered
space, semi-outdoor space many as [inaudible] furnitures. And surprisingly, kids
gather here to do homework. And also elderly is coming
to here to meet with friends. And so every day something like
that happens in that city hall. It is very unusual
for a public building. The public building,
normally, it is a solid box. It is not inviting. But this building
is inviting people. And the one year, there
was 1.2 million visitors gathering for the city hall. The population of the city is
only 250,000, but in one year, more than a million
people are gathering here. It’s very, very unusual
for a public building. There’s some sustainabilities. There’s a movable–
something like that. But it’s moving. I like that idea. Doma space is here. The arena is here. It’s connected by big doors. And the kids are gathering
here to do homework and also to do ping pong here. And also those ladies are
gathering here to do dancing. This is space for NPO,
operated by NPO group. The city only
provides the space. And also the assembly
hall is totally exposed. Transparency is the
theme of this space. And after, it’s a musician and
the citizen, community people. It is also used for
the concert hall and sometimes used
for the wedding. And this is also unusual. Usually, that kind
of politician’s space is very enclosed. But the basic idea
for this space is that the politicians should
abandon their own space. That is the basis. But at the beginning
of the project, the politician criticizes
my idea of very much. It’s a very, very tough
process fighting with them. And local materials. Rice papers in the
snow is becoming white. This is called snow rice paper. This a beautiful rice papers. And this rice paper was
also used for furniture. So we designed furnitures
with rice paper. And also it’s a special
silk made by farmers. And the silk fabric
was used as a counter. And in China, I also
tried to respect the tradition of the place
and the topology of the space, in that case. In Hangzhou, the
Academy of China, I was asked to
design the museum. The site was a hill. Our idea is follow the topology
of the site as possible. And again, we didn’t
want to cut the topology. And this is basically
a one-story building with a sloping floor. And material-wise, we
want to use the roof tile. So the roof tile in
China is beautiful. In Japan, I don’t like
the Japanese roof tile because the big factory is
producing the Japanese roof tiles. There’s a very standard
sizes, standard colors. And it’s not beautiful. But in China, the colors
is such a variety, and sizes also has variety. It’s not bad. . And so we did use tiles for
the screening of the building, like Chinese painting. But it’s a combination of
contemporary technology. It extends wires with
the old material. The sloping floors. For this space, we use the wood. But that’s again
sloping floors flowing the topology of this land. As an ongoing project,
it’s the first time to show that project
in the lecture. It is because it’s
an ongoing project. This is Beijing. It’s the Forbidden Palace. It’s a very central
place in Beijing. And Tiananmen Square is here. As a location, our
project is here. [inaudible] My pronunciation is very bad. But [inaudible]. This kind of area. And it’s a very narrow
street called Fulton. As the houses with
courtyard [inaudible] is a kind of mixture. It’s a very interesting area. But recently, as most
those traditional districts was gone by the big
development, by towers. And also, for this
area, some developers did a master plan– big
towers, towers, atria, something like that. But some journalists,
some magazines criticized those ideas. And some people were
against that destruction. And finally, developers
and the government abandoned those tower ideas. And their new idea is
to preserve the place with some architects. Five of our architects were
invited to the project, so we were around them. And the street was like that. This is our new
office in Beijing. They asked us, as
a project to us. And also, they asked to move
the office to this district. And as a new ideas,
is that area should be kind of a
designer’s village– have interesting designers,
and artists gather here. I liked that idea
and decided to move. And the courtyard, there’s a
courtyard and Fulton Street. Something like that. The restoration is not
easy because that kind was a damaged area. And this and the restoration,
and this is a rendering. This is a rendering. This is a rendering. This is our new office. And the construction–
next time, I want to show the
images of the completion. It’s very well done. And the [inaudible]
basically, the idea is, it combines as a
new transparency with the old district. As it used to be a very
enclosed wall, heavy wall. But we opened up the walls
to create transparency. And is this project in Shanghai. It also is our new project. This is the first time to show. This is the location. And the old ship building–
ship building factory. The two wholes as kinds of
complex, as a new program. This is a new facade. The idea is also to
give a new transparency to the traditional building. It’s not a simple preservation. Preserve the older building,
but to add a new transparency. Preserve all the
structural systems. This is a mockup. I am here, probably. This is a detail of the
oblique transparent wall. And in Europe, we are
trying some ideas. The natures and town connected
by the hole, that is our idea. The hole is here. The hole is here. The preserved old building–
add new structure. And we also designed
the landscape as between nature and
building, city and building. [inaudible] is here. It’s a new [inaudible] building. We add for that as
a classic building. The Ngawa space is here. As a creek, the top is here. And again, light
is very important. As Mark mentioned, let me
repeat again the komorebi, the forest light effect was is
a main theme of this design. So komorebi is
through this roof. The facade is also to
create komorebi effect. And in the central palace,
the Entrepot MacDonald’s, but it’s not hamburger. This MacDonald’s is
not a hamburger shop. This MacDonald is the
name of the general, name of the street in palace. And after Starbucks,
people misunderstand. After Starbucks
brought McDonald’s. And this is Entrepot
MacDonald, built in 1970. An old, 600-meter building. And this is a new building. The OMA, Rem Koolhaas
did the master plan of this renovation project. Rem’s idea is preserve
the 600 meters building to add boxes on top of it. And six architects were
appointed the new designers for the upper boxes. And we were in charge of the
West edge of the complex. And the French architects,
they designed the boxes. The boxes are not
bad, but I don’t want to add boxes on boxes. This is the existing building. I want to add a
very light floating roof on top of the box. This is a new community
center for this district. So my idea is that the roof can
create a sense of a community. So this idea is coming from
the Japanese tradition, but also, in Europe, the loop
is covering the community space. And those, again, the wood
is the material for the roof. The material is also important. So material-wise, this
[inaudible], these screens, is made by as zinc. Zinc is a typical
material for the roof of French buildings in Paris. Paris building is
covered by zinc. And then so we did use zinc. And also we added wood. This screen is made by zinc. So we like courtyards. But as we prefer the
semi-open courtyards, as one side is always open at
the connection to involvement, connection to neighbors
is very importan. The new project in
France is the station. It’s the Saint Denis. The is our scheme
for the station. And in that case, again, I
opened the roof to the public. And eventually, the station
becomes a part of the plaza. And this area, probably
as some of you know, this area, Saint Denis
is a big stadiums. But it’s a not safe area. There’s many immigrants from
Syria and some of those places that are living here. And you remember the
terror attack in Paris happened last year. Most of the terrorists
were living in that area. And there is a city of palaces,
the idea of city of palaces, to create the good community
space for this kind of area. And I like that
idea, as normally, as a public building,
infrastructure building is a box. It’s not inviting. But in this case, I want to
create the space for community, for that kind of area. And so again, so we use
wood for the station. And comparing with
those big projects, I want to show
the small project. It’s also a very new project. The jyubako. The jyubako is a Bento box. You know the Japanese Bento box. It’s a small wooden box. So I translated that
idea to trailer house. It’s a trailer house. There’s actually tires here. This is a trailer
house we designed. It’s a wooden box trailer house. It is a device to
connect to the cars. And the door is
usually like that. And opened up to become a table
and counter– and the interior. It’s big enough to live
in that house, I believe. It looks big. The first trailer house is now
used for a small restaurant in the center of Tokyo. We designed the counters
for the restaurants. And in that trailer
house, actually, 12 people can sit in the trailer. And this is an example
of a small project. But I want to show
other, smaller projects. The stone castle, stone
is a structure, very tiny thin stone. One centimeter thickness
is used for the structure of this pavilion. And we translated the material
from stone to aluminum. This is a small project. For a smaller project, we
always continue the project, develop the projects one by one. So from stone to aluminum. And after this small
furniture system, we designed a house by aluminum. This is a house. Structurally, this
aluminum is very strong, enough to support as a house. And the house has three rooms. And it is between
house and furniture. I like that idea. So a normal house is just a box. But in this house, the wall
is working as furniture. And also students have
constructed by themselves. Kitchens, and after that is
the joint system, joint system of that aluminum,
aluminum card is adapted to that interior design. There are only
three sushi joints, but we could aid
this organic shape. So it exists in Osaka. And the next is a
change in material. Ceramic tile is the
material for this pavilion. So ceramic style is normally
used for cutting surface, but in this case, the ceramic
tile was used for structure. The structural engineer
analyzes this system. And this is a vertical element. It’s a standard pipe. And the pipe is fixed
with ceramic tiles. And as an angle is is to create
the shadows for the pavilion. And a very tiny edge. And so next material is probably
don’t know that material. It’s a shape memory alloy. It’s a shape memory alloy. It’s a special alloy. But they remember the shape. And if, in certain temperature,
it’s are going back to the original shape,
it’s a very smart material. And they remember the
shape at 30 centigrade. 30 centigrade, they
remember this shape. But other conditions,
other temperature, they forget the shape. They are not smart,
in that sense. So this is a joint system. So we made these
structures in the factory because this kind of support
is needed because this is very, very soft. The diameter of the metal
is just four millimeters. And we need this
support plastic. And after the total structure is
fixed, we move the support out, then we can make it. In the daytime, they remember
the shape of a circle. And then it’s very
hard, in the daytime. And in the nighttime, it’s
dropping slowly from the top. And the next
material is umbrella. This is an umbrella. Milan invited us to the project
and the theme is [non-english], house for everybody. And they asked us to design
a house for refugees. And my idea is inspired
by Buckminster Fuller. So Buckminster Fuller,
his Fullerdome is a dome. It’s a simple dome system. But I wanted to use a daily
commodity, the umbrella. If we can carry the umbrella,
this umbrella, so 15 people can make this house. Very simple idea. But it’s a little
bit strange umbrella. Very fashionable, I think. It is easy to find the friends. Friends decide to make
the house together. And the friends is 15
umbrellas began like that. And the interior is big
enough for 15 people to stay. This triangular part, as
it’s added to the umbrella, is used for the windows. This opens up the windows. This is the entrance. And this also is by a student. And so after they started
to drink and sleep. And next material
is the New York MOMA asked us to design a small house
for home delivery exhibitions in 2008. And the hint came from the tank. It’s used for the
construction site. To fill the water, this
is getting heavier. And this is very
smart device, I think. The home delivery. This is a pulley tank we
designed for the exhibition. We designed for the
house and with two bulbs. To have two bulbs is important. The two bulbs are connected
to create water-flow. This is the MOMA exhibition. But the budget is not enough for
making a house– just a mockup for MOMA. And after MOMA, the Japanese
gallery, Gallery Ma, has asked us to design
a real-sized house. This is a house,
plan of the house. It is the [inaudible],
the bed, and the kitchen. And making hot water here. [inaudible] what I can
circulate in the water. That is very new idea. And usually, the structures,
and piping, and the interior are all divided. But for this house,
it’s totally integrated. The water is running
in the walls. It’s running in the floors. It’s very efficient as an
air-conditioning system. And students, again, constructed
in the university campus as a connected those units. And he’s already very tired. [laughter] And this is completion
of the house. As a waterproof,
it’s a big hurdle. And we designed a
court for the house. This is the interior. It is bed. It is too small,
even for Japanese. [laughter] This is generators. And this idea was translated to
is a real project as a Beijing teahouse. The is a permanent structure. This is a section
of the building. This, as a pulley tank, is
supporting the whole structure. And this is interior. This is not Photoshop. This is as real as
the Forbidden Palace. This is just beside
the Forbidden Palace. It’s a very unique location. And so for this project,
[inaudible] waterproof and the insulation. And then this is a
new type of block and here is a double layered
system to solve the insulation. And this is a street. The west gate of the
Forbidden Palace is just here, and this is a building. And this is a kind
of a historical area, and we need to have
the roof on, top but I like that combinations
of the very new material and classic roof on top. Like that. This is the rooftop. There’s the Forbidden Palace,
and there’s our rooftop. And the next series
is a fabric house. It’s a tea house in Germany. This is in the garden of
Richard Meiers Design Museum. You know the Richard Meiers
Design Museum in Frankfurt– asked us to design a teahouse. The idea is inflatable
structures– instant teahouse. We call it the Cup
o’ Noodle teahouse. Instant teahouse. Only 15 minutes, it was
built. But it is not a joke. It is a well-thought project. It’s a double-layered
structure system. And the section is like that. And the interior is like that. After a skin and in the skin,
they are tied with those nodes. And these are used for tea
ceremony and the tea ceremony school. After that, there’s a National
Building Museum in Washington. We built a floating teahouse. Again, as the budget
is very limited, and we don’t have
the travelling costs, I carried this
teahouse in my trunk. It is possible
because this is also is a balloon and just a fabric. So Super Organza is
the name of the fabric. It is probably the
lightest-weight light weight fabric in the world. This is this Super Organza. And after that– it’s a series. Starts from Frankfurt,
Washington, and Hokkaido. It’s the north end islands. And as Mark explained
about the Horizon House by a Harvard student before
that we did the Memu Meadows project, inspired by this house. I like this house very much. It’s not new design. This is Ainu people. So a few were
living in Hokkaido. It’s an ethnic
minority of Hokkaido. And they were living
in that house. It’s a very soft house. They’re using leaves of bamboo. We want to make a similar
idea, the soft house. But not the bamboo leaves. For this project, we’ve
[inaudible] fabric. And it’s a double
skin house, again. And with sustainable
as a warming system. Like, an ethnic house
in the Ainu, people are heating the soil. So even in summer, they
are heating, heating. And in the wintertime,
the earth is warm enough. And they can get
radiation from there. So we have the same
system for this house. And double as a layer’s house,
as we try to avoid insulation. And so, if we can
avoid insulation, then we can get
such kind of effect. And even in the
minus 30 degrees, we can survive in that house. And after that, we did a
series of international student competitions for that space. And we designed many houses. [inaudible] University
won that house. And [inaudible]
University won that house. And finally, Harvard
won that house, 2014, so Mark Mulligan’s
team won that house. It’s a Horizon House
and also business with sustainability devices. But he can explain
better than me. And so 2015, so
Berkeley, Nest We Grow. The Berkeley people
love those vegetables. And in Kyoto’s, we designed
this movable pavilion. The idea is a magnet joint. As I explained some with
a traditional joint, but, for this house, it’s a
magnet that can fix sticks. It’s a very strong magnet
recently invented by 3M. And three layers
with those sticks, as they were tied
together by the magnet has become solid wood. At this stage, it
is just a scroll, and we can carry easily. And then, at this
stage, three laws, three membranes,
And on the side, it’s become the solid wall
by the power of magnet. And that’s also the walls. You can see three
layers of membrane. It’s the ETFE in that case. And they are easy to
move and transport. And it’s another
material is of paper. This is a paper pavilion. It’s balkanized
paper, special paper. So we have many
types of pavilion. So we should skip. And in London, it’s
small, very, very tiny. Bamboo sticks are used. Probably you know
this kind of incense. We did use this material. This is connected like that. It is a joint. It’s plastic. And it is heated,
and it becomes tight. And this is a section of the
space of the Royal Academy. And the detail is of [inaudible]
we can get smell from incense. It’s a joint. It is a pavilion. It doesn’t look like a pavilion,
but we call it pavilion. It’s a kind of phenomenon. Is a phenomenon with
some very tiny materials. And at last, I want to show
the Olympic stadium design. Probably, you are
interested in that project. It’s our scheme. As you know, Zaha
Hadid’s design, the first competition winning,
is cancelled because of over budget. And the second competition,
we submitted that idea. The first concept for this
stadium is as low as possible. Zaha’s scheme has a 75
meters high building. And existing stadium
has 60 meters. And our goal is under 50 meters. And that is because
it’s a beautiful park. It’s a site. And then we want to push the
building as low as possible. Under 49 meters was the final
solution for the building. And we worked with
structural engineers to decrease the size of a beam
and then, finally, 49 meters, and wood is a material. The wood is very necessary
for that project, I think, because it’s in the park. And integration with
the park is important. We have the
[inaudible] of plants, it’s watered the plants
from [inaudible] areas. And wood is creating shadows. And that gets a hint from
the traditional buildings. The eaves a series of
eaves, is good for the life of the building. And that this Horyu-ji Temple
is the oldest [inaudible] building, built 7th century. And in the interview
for the Olympic stadium, as I had many questions–
so how [inaudible]. Always we have this
kind of questions. And my answer is,
look at this building. I used this slide, actually. Look at this building. Do you know the life
of Horyu-ji building? 1,400 years. It’s true. And good thing for the
wood is it’s replaceable. Concrete is not replaceable. Concrete– there
are many opinions about the life of concrete. But somebody said 100
years is the maximum. Somebody said 200
years is maximum. But to have 200 years of life
is very difficult for concrete. But wood is 1,400 years. And because of the
unique section, the wooden part is
covered by roofs. And also, all
element is visible, and it means
replaceable, recyclable. And also there’s many
secrets in the detail. In the bottom, of
those as a joist, they have the extra length. And after 100 years,
the edge of the wood will it be deteriorated. And so they hit the bottom
of the joist to cut the edge and use a new part of food by
pushing out those elements. It’s a very smart idea. And another idea is this roof. It is the roof and steel
is combined together to drop the weight of
the roof structure. So we decreased 1,000
tons by using wood. And decrease 1,000 tons
means as the foundation can be decreased. And every structure
can be decreased. And by that reason,
today’s architectural theme is from concrete to wood. And also with other idea, as
a result of air conditioning, so we also did use
natural ventilation. And we did a simulation. And so we changed
the pitch of element. The [inaudible] element
is, as wooden plank, had spaces between the unit. And that pitch varies
according to the direction. The south side is very narrow
to bring the south wind to the bottom of the building. And the north side
is a big pitch, as the north wind is going
to the top of the building. And then, as a
result animation, we can control the volume of wind. That’s a kind of a
simulation we did. And also material-wise,
we decided to use wood from disaster area. It’s the up north area,
the tsunami hit that area. And the Kumamoto earthquake
happened last April, and also big damage. Those wood will be
used for that building. This is an image I took
by myself in Ishinomaki because as we design
Ishinomaki’s first building, and I went there two
weeks after disaster, this is a picture I took myself. And I was so
shocked to see that, as because before
20th century, people didn’t built the building
along the waterfront. Because they know as a tsunami
was hitting every 60, 70 years. But in 20th century, so
we forgot everything. We forgot the risk of
nature, strongness of nature. And they rebuilt those
buildings on the waterfront. And the from those disasters,
is go back to the first theme. After [inaudible] 1995
earthquake, [inaudible] earthquake, so I
began to think– how to respect nature as should
be the theme of our design. How to defeat nature was the
theme of the 20th century. In 20th century, we believed
architecture is strong. Architecture can be much
stronger than nature. But always, nature is
stronger than architecture. And we should
respect nature again. That is the theme of
the lecture today. Thank you very much. [applause] So here’s the point
where we open up. We maybe turn on some
lights, and we open up the floor for questions,
if there are any. I see a few very
close to the front. Are there microphones? Are there any microphones here? OK, thanks. Can you bring them up? Thank you so much for
the lecture tonight. I’m wondering, for
somebody that embodies so many principles of
historical Japanese moves in architecture, such as the
joinery, and the shading, and the positioning of
the building on the site, I’m curious how
you feel that– now that your firm has grown so
much in the past few years, and you’ve done so much
more international work, if you feel that doing
projects outside of Japan has either influenced or changed
the way that you’ve approached certain projects, or if
you feel that you now have a responsibility
to demonstrate these Japanese principles
on a global stage. Yes, I always try to do the
research on one the site. And each project or
has a background. Has many, many
historical conditions, conditions of the climate,
of the topographies. Every projects are different. And as we try to find the unique
project for each, as we don’t want to push a previous design. It’s a big difference
from other architects. For example, the [inaudible]
is a great architect, but his idea is
very strong core. So he tries to push that idea
to the place, each places. But my approach is always
try to do the conversation with a project. And in that conversation,
sometimes I use a hint from Japanese tradition. But it’s not
necessarily, I think. We have many ideas behind us. So not only for Japanese
ideas, some classic buildings, there’s masonry buildings. For example, the water tank,
the [inaudible] tank project, the hint is coming from
masonry structures. Masonry is not
Japanese tradition. Masonry is a western
tradition, but we got a hint. We combine the plastic
and masonry together. We are living in
that kind of world. I study the states. I study Japan. Everybody’s a mix of everything. Thank you for the lecture. My question relates
to, when beginning, you described
contemporary architecture, Japanese architecture
begin with generations from Kenzo Tange, [inaudible]
to the second generation, Ito, and your generation. I’m curious what
is the continually throughout a
generation, and what’s the role of the next
generation layers in terms of develop contemporary
architecture. As for generation,
before my generation, [? kanga’s ?] generation, Maki’s
generation, Ando’s generation, they are not so much
interested in wooden structures because, in Japan,
we had a big divide. As modernism
architects, those people are designing concrete
and steel buildings. And traditional
group, as it existed, is totally separated from them. The traditional
group were designing the traditional teahouse
and traditional ski house. There’s a very
classic convention. The two groups are
totally separated and actually hate each other. I think it’s not
happy for the country because we have a big tradition. But the two groups are divided. My generation, I think, I
want to destroy the border between two generations. And sometimes we use some
detail from classic buildings. And I like to design
wooden structures. And I try to create some new
kind of [inaudible] as the two types of architectural design. And I think that situation
is actually happening. And it is a healthy way
for our tradition, I think. OK. Thank you so much for sharing
with us so many experiments with so many kinds of material. So my question is the
same as the topic. Why woods matter? Do you think so much
wood in architecture is kind of respect to
nature, or a kind of destroy to the nature? Yes, so somebody thought to use
wood, it means destroy nature. But it’s not true. To use wood carefully is
very necessarily for nature. I mentioned about satoyama,
as a Japanese mountain. And in 20th century,
we didn’t use satoyama, abandoned satoyama. And it was very bad for the
environment of the forest. So forest was as a very
carefully maintained, and as they try to create
the natural circulation. And the cut some trees,
and plant some trees. This can create the best
conditions for the forest. And if it’s abandoned,
the environment is totally getting
into the bad situation. For example, it’s caused flood. All the trees were not
good for keeping water, what sustains the water. And then the flood
happens in 20th century. Many floods happened
in 20th century. And also for global
warming, old wood forest is not as absorbing as
carbon dioxide, CO2. Only the well-maintained
forest is good for solve global warming. Abandoned forest is
not working like that. And that’s the reason
why I use wood. To use wood carefully
is good for the forests and good for global
warming situation. And also, it’s good for our
psychological situation. That’s the reason. OK? Please. Hi, I have a question. I’m aware that high cost is
sometimes inevitable to produce beautiful architecture,
like, for example, the last idea for the
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium. It was criticized
for its high budget. But what’s your opinion on
the balance between high cost and the outcome? Yes, this. As always, cost is a
big problem for us. For every project. And it is not a new situation. But recently, architects
became the target of the criticism
of the journalism. The architects as
egoism, architects designs, as the biggest
reason for the high costs. But we should show, as a
good example, reasonable cost and good design. And if we show that
kind of good example, we can find a kind of
collaboration with the society. Recently, society
and the architects are very much divided. It’s a very bad for
architectural design. So if we can recover the
trust from the society, we can design easily. And for Tokyo Olympic
Stadium, I wanted to show that kind of example to
the society, to the journalism. Because journalism attacked
Zaha’s design very much. Architect’s egoistic,
strange design destroys the [inaudible]. So it’s a very, very
tough situation for us, [inaudible] our community,
architects’ community. So we should change
that situation by the reasonable, good design. And I believe we can do that. Thank you, thank you,
Mr. Kuma, for your ideas. Harry Allen, Hutcheons Fellow. I was wondering if you could
speak to the idea of tall wood buildings. I’ve read that, in
Europe, wood buildings are topping 10 stories, that
SOM, in Chicago, has proposed a 42-story wood building. And POP, in Cambridge has
proposed a 1,000 foot wood skyscraper. Are these viable
ideas in your opinion? Would you speak to not just
the viability of these ideas, but the idea of
wood skyscrapers? Yeah, so basically,
it’s not a bad idea. And also, technically,
it is very possible. But I am also
doubtful for why we should make it high building. Because, high building, so we
need elevators, many machines. So looks outstanding building. But as for environment,
it’s not a good solution to make a high building. And to use wood is
basically for environment. And if so, we tried
to find solution with a lower-lies building. It’s closer to the ground. It’s closer to nature. That should be the
aim of using wood. You’re saying it’s diminishing
returns after a certain point. Yeah. OK. Thank you very much. [applause]

Comments (7)

  1. architecture as symbolic belief

  2. Enjoyed his sharing of respect for nature and his innovative solutions from his observations and reflections

  3. Thank you so much for sharing!!!!!!

  4. is a, as a. My brain got burned.

  5. I need you this my number 0085678888688

  6. Wood is very warm n beautiful.But there will be many termites later n ants.

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