Kengo Kuma is a Japanese architect known worldwide for his beautifully designed architecture works that blend in with the surrounding environment and local culture. The Kengo Kuma exhibition, which is being held at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (MOMAT), introduces 68 of his projects with a focus on those of a highly public nature. Learn more about his work through architectural models, mockups (part models), photographs, and videos!
This special exhibition “Kuma Kengo: Five Purr-fect Points for a New Public Space” is the first large-scale exhibition of an architect at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. At the large exhibition space, all texts introducing sections of the exhibition and individual works were written by Kuma himself.
For this exhibition, only architecture with a “highly public nature” showing a reconstruction of public spaces where many people come together was selected.
There is no need to say that large-scale buildings such as city halls and museums are public facilities, but the exhibition also introduces small-scale architecture such as store designs. This allows the visitor to enjoy various architectures from large to small while rethinking the meaning of “public space”.
What are Kengo Kuma’s five principles for a new public space?
The architecture selected for the exhibition is not shown in chronological order but is classified and introduced through “five principles” that play an important part in Kuma’s works. These “five principles” are “hole,” “particles,” “oblique,” “softness,” and “time”.
For example, “Nagaoka City Hall Aore” belongs to the category “hole”. The city hall, an office building, a municipal assembly building, and an arena building are built around a roofed central courtyard open to the sides. It was inspired by Japanese “nakadoma” (earthen-floored interiors) which were semi-outdoor workspaces for farmers. Being always open, the “nakadoma” style courtyard was created to encourage interaction and communication between people.
A nice extra: The design of the exhibition space change according to each of the “5 principles”. So look closely at how the exhibition slowly changes. It’s one of the highlights!
Why a cat’s point of view is indispensable in the coming era
This special exhibition is based on Kuma’s idea that in this age of time, human-scale architecture gets more and more important and therefore we should not look at the city or buildings from above, but from below – from a cat’s point of view.
If you look closely, you can find cats everywhere in the exhibition room. Where? Well, look at the architectural models!
The second exhibition hall, which you can enter free of charge, is also full of cats! The exhibition here is all about an interesting research project named “A Plan for Tokyo, 2020: Five Purr-fect Points for Feline Architecture,” which examines life in the city from the perspective of cats.
In our time with a global pandemic and the novel coronavirus, gatherings with a large number of people aren’t possible. So how does this difficult time change the way how we feel about space design of not only the crowded buildings but also the public spaces around us? This will be an even more important issue in the future, and now might be the time to reconsider these topics. The Kengo Kuma special exhibition was very well curated and thanks to that, it made me think about these kinds of topics. A big recommendation!
Kuma Kengo: Five Purr-fect Points for a New Public Space
https://kumakengo2020.jp (Special Website)
Date: June 18th (Friday) -September 26th (Sunday), 2021
*Tickets can be purchased on-site at the ticket counters, subject to their availability. Please consider making an online reservation and purchasing your ticket online in advance.
Other ongoing exhibitions:
MOMAT Collection Special:
Masterpieces of Japanese Art from the End of the 19th Century to the Present
Date: June 1st (Tuesday) -September 26th (Sunday), 2021
The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (MOMAT)
3-1 Kitanomaru-koen, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/UrVmJReZ5Vo6hUhB9
Nearest stations: Takebashi Station, Kudanshita Station, Jimbocho Station