cover image Kengo Kuma: Complete Works

Kengo Kuma: Complete Works

Kenneth Frampton. Thames and Hudson, $65 (320p) ISBN 978-0-500-34283-1

This thorough and illuminating overview of preeminent Japanese architect Kuma demonstrates the importance of his technique and methodology on an international scale. His work is defined by its elegant use of natural materials, whether in expansive public museums, elegant community plazas, or private residences. By pairing traditional methods of craft with advanced technology, he creates structures that bridge the gap between architecture and the natural world; his exposed floors, pitched roofs, and generous play with light all obscuring the distinction between building and landscape. The tour through his collected works follows a useful and often insightful formula, with Kuma describing his process and placing the buildings in their unique historical and cultural contexts (often making distinctions between Western and Japanese traditions). Following these introductions, lush images of the buildings are presented alongside the initial designs, clarifying the practical side of Kuma's sometimes theoretical takes on life and art. The images themselves—ethereal, serene, and strikingly geometric—dominate the book and can easily be appreciated without the technical exposition. Taken together, however, the text becomes an education, and Kuma's unique take on architecture a lesson in "inverting the structure of a culture that is centered around the city." Color illus. (Apr.)