Kengo Kuma was born in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, in 1954, graduating from the University of Tokyo in 1979. In 1987 he founded the “Spatial Design studio” now “Kengo Kuma & Associates”.

“If I touch the earth with my foot and touch the trees with my hand, I can perceive the reality of a place. This is my method, this is the starting point for a dialogue with the place.”

Kengo Kuma, 2018

Why is it worth and necessary to know the works and what moves the architecture of this great master?

Because experience is the real object of Kengo Kuma’s design, made of material, light, awareness of tradition, perception, and place.

10 Wooden related Projects by Kengo Kuma and Associates
Kengo Kuma _©Michael McGurk

1. CLT Park Harumi

Year of Completion: 2020

A temporary pavilion for events and shows for an open area in Harumi, Tokyo. This architecture of Kengo Kuma betrays its temporality through form and materials. The semi-external space consists of CLT “leaves” (160 cm x 350 cm thick, 21 cm thick) on a steel frame, contrasting kite-shaped TEFKA slabs that fill the spaces and until they form the cover, this creates a structure that, proposing a spiral shape, tends towards the sky.
In this alternation of transparencies and not light filters like among the leaves of trees in a forest.

To denote the importance of the place in the architecture of Kengo Kuma also the use of local materials and workers, in this case, the CLT is made by the Meiken Lamwood Corporation of Maniwa in Japanese cypress of the city of Maniwa in Okayama Prefecture, where the project will be reassembled in Hiruzen national park after its period in Harumi. 

CLT Park Harumi -- Sheet1
CLT Park Harumi _©
CLT Park Harumi -- Sheet2
CLT Park Harumi, night view _©

2. The Exchange 

Year of Completion:  2019

Kengo Kuma’s project for a community center in Darling Harbour, central Sydney.

Completely different from the surrounding skyscrapers, the goal of the building is to create a soft, warm, welcoming, and integrated structure with the square. 

Inside from the upper floors, you can overlook the market on the ground floor that merges with the everyday life of the square. The spiral façade in wooden “threads” Accoya acts as a screen against the urban jungle creating a protected environment that, at the same time, extends into the square turning into a pergola to protect the square as well.

The Exchange  - Sheet1
The Exchange _©Martin Mischkulnig
The Exchange  - Sheet2
The Exchange _ the square _©Martin Mischkulnig
The Exchange  - Sheet3
The Exchange _ the entrance _©Martin Mischkulnig

3. Mikuni Izu Kogen 

Year of Completion: 2019

This Kengo Kuma architecture is a clifftop restaurant on the Izu Peninsula, overlooking Sagami Bay.

For this building Kuma uses a traditional method to mediate the need to build with the orography of the ground, the Kakezukuri system uses supports to float the building on a steep slope. Specifically, a transparent Kakezukuri with a hybrid wood-steel frame has been produced that supports a cypress beam cover that extends up to 11.4 meters from the forest behind the building extending beyond the cliff.

Mikuni Izu Kogen  - Sheet1
Mikuni Izu Kogen _©
Mikuni Izu Kogen  - Sheet2
Mikuni Izu Kogen _ interior _©
Mikuni Izu Kogen  - Sheet3
Mikuni Izu Kogen _ interior night _©

4. Kenzo House 

Year of Completion: 2019

Kengo Kuma’s project is to transform Kenzo Takada’s Paris residence into a house and restaurant for its new owner.

The project focuses on the enhancement of a key element of Kenzo’s home, a Japanese garden, a unique micro-world in the heart of Paris. Kuma then reorganized the house around the garden pond; to open them to greenery and open space creating large windows and maximizing the transparency of the rooms to make it visible from every corner of the house. Another important change is the transformation of the pool into an Engawa (veranda) made of wood, a material that, in the renovation of the dwelling is the material most used for its ability to provide warmth and softness to the rooms.

Kenzo House  - Sheet1
Kenzo House _ interior _©
Kenzo House  - Sheet2
Kenzo House _ garden _©
Kenzo House  - Sheet3
Kenzo House _ entrance _©

5. Birch Moss Chapel 

Year of Completion: 2015

A small chapel in Karuizawa is Kengo Kuma’s project that blends the built with the birch trees of the place where it stands.

The structure is therefore made of steel and birch trunks that still look like live trees as well as those surrounding the building. These support a glass cover with a thin structure as birch branches contribute to creating, together with glazed furnishings that disappear from view and do not create visual impediments, the illusion of being in a forest and not inside a building.

Birch Moss Chapel  - Sheet1
Birch Moss Chapel _©
Birch Moss Chapel  - Sheet2
Birch Moss Chapel _ furniture _©
Birch Moss Chapel  - Sheet3
Birch Moss Chapel _ roof _©

6. Jyubako 

Year of Completion: 2016

Jyubako is Kengo Kuma’s design for a mobile home developed and manufactured by KKAA and Snow Peak, a Japanese manufacturer of outdoor supplies. These types of designs require different requirements from common homes, weights, height, and spaces are revolutionized to create a new small but spacious living space for a nomadic lifestyle.

Jyubako  Sheet1
Jyubako _©
Jyubako  Sheet2
Jyubako _©
Jyubako  Sheet3
Jyubako _interiors _©

7. Daiwa Ubiquitous Computing Research Building 

Year of Completion: 2014

This project by Kengo Kuma is the building for the university’s new research campus on ubiquitous computing. The project aimed to overturn the classic and conventional image of university campuses, replacing traditional cold materials of these types of buildings with warmer and more welcoming materials such as wood and earth. 

These form the skin of the building in an overlap of shingles that please let the light filter inside, where other natural materials and careful planning create a warm and comfortable environment.

Daiwa Ubiquitous Computing Research Building - Sheet1
Daiwa Ubiquitous Computing Research Building _©
Daiwa Ubiquitous Computing Research Building - Sheet2
Daiwa Ubiquitous Computing Research Building 1 _©
Daiwa Ubiquitous Computing Research Building - Sheet3
Daiwa Ubiquitous Computing Research Building _ entrance _©

8. Sunny Hills Japan 

Year of Completion: 2013

A building, this project by Kengo Kuma, which transforms a traditional “Jigoku Gumi” joint system into the fundamental elements of a modern project in which the wooden structure, made of small pieces, creates a three-dimensional complex that encloses the house in a warm, welcoming and human-sized way.

Sunny Hills Japan - Sheet1
Sunny Hills Japan _©
Sunny Hills Japan - Sheet2
Sunny Hills Japan _©
Sunny Hills Japan - Sheet3
Sunny Hills Japan _©

9. Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum 

Year of Completion: 2010

An iconic project by Kengo Kuma’s studio is precisely this, where a unique design of its kind enhances the technique, traditionally called “Tokiyo”, of the cantilevered structure of this bridge. Small glulam elements work together to form what statically behaves like a huge beam.

To adapt to the context, the structure distributes the vertical load on a pillar placed in the middle of the “beam”. This static composition could be baptized as a “toy balancing bridge”.

This project embodies the attempt to re-propose traditional architecture and construction systems in an innovative and modern way.

Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum - Sheet1
Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum _©
Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum - Sheet2
Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum 1 _©
Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum - Sheet3
Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum _ interior _©
Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum - Sheet4
Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum _ details _©

10. GC Prostho Museum Research Center 

Year of Completion: 2010

Another innovative and intriguing project by Kengo Kuma in which the design faces the challenge of conceiving a wooden structure created by combining small elements (6 cm x 6 cm). 

The composition of which is based on the design of a traditional wooden toy from the Hida Takayama region of Japan. Characterizing element of this building is the lack of glues or fasteners, the wooden grids are supported thanks to an interlocking system that creates the perfect box for museum display inside.

GC Prostho Museum Research Center  - Sheet1
GC Prostho Museum Research Center _©
GC Prostho Museum Research Center  - Sheet2
GC Prostho Museum Research Center _ interiors _©
GC Prostho Museum Research Center  - Sheet3
GC Prostho Museum Research Center _ details _©

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