Serving as a nice cap to our Japan trip, Kengo Kuma was here yesterday to give a lecture on his recent work (during an eight-hour Chicago layover). The lecture was sponsored by the Consulate General and the Japan Foundation so we were fortunate to be able to host the talk here at IIT. I have to admit to only a glancing knowledge of his work until just recently. But that seems to be surprisingly common amongst my friends and colleagues. In fact, it was a group of my students who kept going on and on about him that prompted me to wake up. It's embarassing when your students are out ahead of you, when you are presumably well-informed about the larger world of architecture. Regardless, I owe them.
Dr. Kuma showed two particularly interesting projects: one was a recently completed bamboo house (not the Great Wall project) that seemed to be a complete reconsideration of the surfaces of a house, and another project planned for Napoli using tufo and allowing its porosity to support an overgrowth of plants. He also spoke a bit about the Nezu Museum in Tokyo which we saw but were unfortunately too early for the re-opening (picture above).
We'll be exploring the possibility of some collaborations between IIT and his students at the University of Tokyo. Seems perfectly natural for us to be more active in Japan. Really, how is it that our trip a couple of weeks ago was the College of Architecture's first ever contact with Japan? Too much time in Italy and France.
Link to a funny article at CNN Talk Asia. The "sushi" architect ??????