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Kengo Kuma’s groundbreaking design: Japan & Scotland

When you think of the traditional architecture of Japan and Scotland, it is easy to think of them as a million miles apart. However, in today’s modern society, architects are fusing Eastern and Western ideas to create amazing spaces for future generations to enjoy. One such example of this is acclaimed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. Kuma is in the midst of design projects that are taking place both in his native Japan, and here in Scotland.

Ground was recently broken on Kuma’s new national stadium in Tokyo. The stadium will form the centrepiece of the Japan 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games. The lattice timbered stadium has an overtly green feel to it, with circulation areas around the edge of each level of the stadium adorned with plants and trees. Kuma, who is one of Japan’s leading architects, stated this was done to pay respect to the surrounding land which is predominantly wooden parkland.

National Stadium in Tokyo

The stadium is a far cry from Zaha Hadid’s initial plan for the Tokyo structure. Hadid’s vision for the stadium was one that was far more futuristic in theme. In contrast to this, Kuma is well known for his use of natural resources, and the stadium’s oval design with a latticed framework has a distinctly natural look.

As work is commencing in Tokyo, another of Kuma’s projects is well under way in Scotland. Though there is a stark contrast between the cities of Tokyo and Dundee, Kuma’s own unique creations will soon become a centrepiece of both cities. Work on the new V&A Museum of Design is continuing, with construction expected to be completed in 2018. The centre will be the first ever design museum established in the UK outside of London, and it also mark Kuma’s first British design.

Kuma described his design of the new V&A Museum as a ‘new living room for the city’, a place where you can relax and spend time in comfort. It was a design that clearly struck at the heart of the judging panel. The design won the proposal competition with a unanimous decision by the judging panel.

V&A Museum of Design, Dundee

Kuma’s relationship with Scotland harks back to his student days while studying in Tokyo. He stated in an interview for the V&A that he was influenced by acclaimed Scottish designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh in his early days, and that Mackintosh was somewhat of a hero figure to him.

It is fitting then that Kuma’s new building will become the premier home of the work of Scottish designers just like Mackintosh. The V&A have stated that the galleries will be the first ever dedicated home celebrating Scotland’s outstanding design heritage. It was also revealed recently that one of Mackintosh’s most famous designs, ‘The Oak Rooms’ will be rebuilt in full in the new centre. This will be the first time the design will have been constructed and displayed in full in over well over 50 years.

The V&A Dundee is considered one to the most innovative and exciting projects currently going on throughout Scotland. Anticipation is high for its eventual opening in the summer of 2018, which will also coincide with the 150th anniversary of the birth of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and just under a year before Kuma’s national stadium in Tokyo.

More about Scottish Architects

Official site of the V&A in Dundee

Last updated 14 Feb 2017