Webinar on "The World of Kengo Kuma - New Form of Encounter Between Tradition and Modernity in Architecture"

On June 23, 2021, JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles and the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles co-presented a webinar entitled, “The World of Kengo Kuma – New Form of Encounter Between Tradition and Modernity in Architecture,” an online conversation with world-acclaimed architect Kengo Kuma.
JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles President Yuko Kaifu began with an introduction of Mr. Kuma, followed by a greeting by Consul General of Japan MUTO Akira. Consul General Muto noted respect for Mr. Kuma’s work, particularly his focus on incorporating “harmony with nature” into design, while also citing Mr. Kuma’s involvement with designing the Japan National Stadium, a venue featured at the Olympic and Paralympic Tokyo 2020 games.
Mr. Kuma explained how in Japan before the 19th century, all materials for buildings and structures came from satoyama, or woodlands adjacent to inhabited areas. With local craftsman working on such structures, the small local community was the basis for architecture and design. But in the 20th century, the use of concrete and steel hurt Japan’s rich tradition of using local natural materials, according to Mr. Kuma, who tries to link back to that tradition in his designs.
Mr. Kuma reflected on some of his works, including the Japan National Stadium, which was completed in November 2019. Mr. Kuma explained that he tried to use wood in the stadium to show the richness of Japanese forests. With 70% of Japan’s land said to be occupied by forest, he incorporated wood to show the uniqueness of that landscape, Mr. Kuma said. For instance, to limit the use of air conditioning, the stadium features spaces through which natural wind can pass, thereby using the power of nature to control the space. The roof, which is made of wood and steel, features at its edge transparent glass that are photovoltaic panels that generate electricity used to supply water to garden spaces, Mr. Kuma said. Furthermore, the wood used in the stadium came from all of Japan’s 47 prefectures, to show the diversity of the Japanese forest.
To watch the entire webinar: https://www.japanhousela.com/events/the-world-of-kengo-kuma/
Learn more about Mr. Kuma’s philosophy in the Los Angeles Times brand publishing article “Kengo Kuma: Renowned Japanese Architect Recovers the Natural and Local” (https://www.la.us.emb-japan.go.jp/itpr_en/2021_LAT_KengoKuma.html)


Kengo Kuma (credit: J.C. Carbonne)

Japan National Stadium (Credit: MARODG/PIXTA}