Award winning Japanese architect to display work at Johannesburg event


Japan certainly has defined its reputation as a pioneer in design, with at least one name jumping to mind, that of world renowned Japanese architect, Kengo Kuma.

Kengo Kuma & Associates, a group of more than 150 architects based in Tokyo and Paris, are well known for their diverse design projects throughout the world, and a photo display of their celebrated work will be showcased as part of Japan Week 2014 at Sandton City.

The event, taking place from 26 -31 March 2014, is sponsored by JETRO, the Japanese External Trade Organization, a governmental agency designed to promote trade and investment between Japan and the rest of the world. The event will showcase a large selection of unique and attractive products and services from Japan and aims to educate and entertain consumers.

Kuma, who was born in Yokohama, Japan, founded the “Spatial Design Studio”, and in 1990, he established his own office “Kengo Kuma & Associates”. He has taught at Columbia University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Keio University, where in 2008, he was awarded his Ph.D. in Architecture.

Kuma is known for his stated goal to recover the tradition of Japanese buildings and to reinterpret for the 21st century. He calls for architecture of relations, respecting surroundings instead of dominating them, and his projects maintain a keen interest in the manipulation of light with nature.

“You could say that my aim is ‘to recover the place’,” Kuma has said. “The place is a result of nature and time; this is the most important aspect. I think my architecture is a frame of nature. With it, we can experience nature more deeply and more intimately. Transparency is a characteristic of Japanese architecture; I try to use light and natural materials to get a new kind of transparency.”

Kuma is currently a professor at the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Tokyo, running diverse research projects concerning architecture, urbanity, and design within his own Laboratory, Kuma Lab.

A multi award winner, in 1997, he won the Architectural Institute of Japan Award and in 2009 was made an Officier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France. Kuma is also an accomplished lecturer and author.

Among Kuma’s major works are Kirosan Observatory (1995), Water/Glass (1995, received AIA Benedictus Award), Stage in Forest, Toyoma Center for Performance Arts (received 1997 Architectural Institute of Japan Annual Award), Bato-machi Hiroshige Museum (received The Murano Prize). Recent works include?Suntory Museum (2007, Tokyo), Nezu Museum (2009, Tokyo), Yusuhara?Wooden Bridge Museum (2010), Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center (2012), Nagaoka City Hall Aore. (2012) and Kabukiza (2013). Outside Japan, Besancon Arts and Culture Center and FRAC Marseilles (France) have been recently completed.

For more information on Japan Week visit or follow on Twitter @JapanWeek_SA.

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