By Minami Endo
The North American Post
The University of Washington Japan Studies program presented the final series of the 2015-2016 Mitsubishi Corporation Lecture on April 13 and April 14. Kengo Kuma was invited to give a lecture on “Sustaining Japan past, present, future” featuring Japan’s sustainability.
Kuma lectured on the rural context of sustainability last Wednesday and the urban context of sustainability last Thursday by introducing his architectural works. His design is distinguished for shadow, space and nature in buildings in urban cities purposed to provide people a feel for nature even in big cities.
Since Kuma was selected as a lead designer of the new National Stadium for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, the lecture was highly populated and drew audiences of 400 for each day.
He said he got inspiration for the stadium design from Horyuji, a historic wooden temple in Nara, Japan. “Harmony between building and nature” is the theme of the new stadium and the design is distinguished for its wood structure and green spaces.
He added that some of the spaces are going to be open to the public everyday so that everyone can use and enjoy the stadium.
A system of natural wind will control the temperature of the stadium to counteract high temperatures of summertime in Japan.
“I was moved by beauty and effect of natural light of the old Olympic stadium when I was ten,” said Kuma, who feels fated for this project. “This was the moment that I decided to become an architect.”
Kuma’s works appear not only in Tokyo but also all over the world, including Paris and Beijing. His design can also be seen in the Portland Japanese Garden’s new Cultural Crossing building.
Kuma explained the importance of understanding the environment and history of the city in order to build sustainable architecture for the urban setting.
“Bring softness to projects in any big cities such as Tokyo is my dream.” Mr.Kuma is motivated to contribute to sustainable architecture for the future generations.
Justin Jesty, UW Department of Asian Languages and Literature and Samuel M. Shepherd, Chair of Japan ICU Foundation Board of Trustees, joined a discussion in the lectures as Kuma’s respondents.