Wood and Metal #Kengo Kuma
Kengo Kuma’s work is currently widely broadcasted thanks to the new Japan National Stadium, the scene of the opening of the 2020 Olympic Games featuring the cauldron designed by Nendo. The stadium, located next to Fumihiko Maki’s Metropolitan Gymnasium, is part of the green axis that links the Meiji Shrine gardens with the Imperial Palace. Its structure reinterprets the large wooden eaves of traditional Japanese architecture with lattices made of cedar and pine wood with a certified origin and incorporates vegetation in its galleries as hanging gardens. The architect designed this work so that it was in harmony with both his surroundings and the environment.
Rather than being a future of concrete and steel, I wanted it to be a vision of a gentle future surrounded by wood and greenery. Because I think that not only Japan must head in that direction in the year 2020 and beyond, I designed this large stadium of wood and greenery with the hope that the entire world looks in this direction.Kengo Kuma, 'Short Stories and Novels', AV Monografías 218-219, 2019.
Although everyone has already seen this building, we have a much closer recent example. Kuma is the author, together with the Italian lighting designer Mario Nanni, of a temporary installation in the Batlló House, one of the best-known fin-de siecle buildings in Barcelona. Kuma was inspired by its immediate context, Antoni Gaudí’s sinuous architecture, to surround a spiral staircase with overlapping layers of aluminium curtains that change colour as we descend. Following the line of previous works such as the Chokkura Shelter, the Mesh/Earth House, the Takashimaya Shopping Centre or the Hongkou Soho Tower, Kuma uses metal as a single material to create, through transparencies and reflections, a lyrical and vibrant atmosphere.