Kengo Kuma: After 3.11


Lecture of the classic of modern Japanese architecture — about the conscious architecture, disasters and enviromental harmony

It was always a natural disaster that directed the course of our civilizations, but the great disaster of 3.11 differed from any other catastrophes since the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake. Nature was desperately forceful as never before. However “strong” or “rational” the structures were, the tsunami flattened Tohoku coastline in seconds. The nuclear accident that followed further revealed the inability of “big and strong” architecture. In front of radiation, concrete or steel meant nothing, even though nuclear energy was a solution for our desire since the Lisbon tragedy, to become bigger, stronger, and more efficient. Now that such a process collapsed on itself, we have to start from scratch. Even before 3.11, I had already been fed up with massive concrete and steel buildings, and began to design a number of small works of architecture. You can build them on your own with nearby materials and be totally independent from strong powers – or rather, dependent solely on the nature, and power of the place. Now I sense that the whole world is shifting toward small things. We are no longer passive creatures who are spoon-fed from a giant yet unreliable system. Each individual starts to nest by him or herself and get energy on his or her own, taking advantage of their locality. A new relationship is being formed between people and the place.

Kengo Kuma was born in 1954. After graduating in Architecture from the University of Tokyo in 1979, he then moved to New York for further studies at Columbia University as a visiting researcher from 1985 to 1986. In 1987, he founded the “Spatial Design Studio”, and in 1990, he established his own office “KengoKuma & Associates”. Being Professor at the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Tokyo, his office employs over 150 architects in Tokyo and Paris. Kuma’s key projects include the Suntory Museum of Art in Tokyo, Bamboo Wall House in China, LVMH Group’s Japan headquarters, and Besançon Art Center in France.

The lecture is supported by MegaFon corporate, innovation partner of Strelka Institute.