Thursday, May 5, 2011

It's a Material World...

The centre of attention; Kengo Kuma.

A lot of people braved the hot, claustrophobic environment provided by the people jam-packed into the EMU Activity Centre Theatre Room this morning. It's not surprising, since people of our guest's caliber don't pop round often. As such, students, instructors and other guests had the pleasure of listening to featured guest, Kengo Kuma (Tekken anyone?). Born in 1954 in Kanagawa, Japan, he acquired his Batchelor's in Architecture from the University of Tokyo in 1979, and has since made a notable name for himself around the world. The stage was set with a white furry rug, a tasteful, glass coffee table endowed with a wonderful wreath of flowers, complimented by a cream armchair; Mr. Kuma's "Seat of Power" if you will (one of great comfort I'm sure, I had to stand the entire time >_<).

Muahahaha, I own the creamy throne!!!

As he took the stage he radiated a quiet sophistication, one that naturally originates from someone of experience. Before he started, to my delight, everyone stood up in silence for a minute to respect the afflicted Japanese victims of the recent colossal earthquake. Clad in black and cream attire, his voice rang throughout the auditorium and exuded a humble wisdom. He seemed an amiable sort of person, and very gently began to express his ideas and perspectives concerning his works. As he took us on a tour of his efforts in feet got sore and my legs got tired...I was standing for quite a while you see.

Trust me, they were all sleeping not long after this picture....zzzzZZZ

He mentioned a number of his projects, which I'll refrain from naming, you'll have to Google search them :P. His ideology behind his architecture seemed to exhibit a desire to revive a respect towards tradition and to express them in a 21st century interpretation. If his works weren't evident enough, his discourse reverberated with his tried-and-true and preferred process of Material ----> Form ----> Planning, as opposed to the conventional Planning ----> Form ----> Material. He displays a fond adoration of materials as expression. " Materials is necessary for unique buildings, don't forget the diversity and variety of them.", he purported.

Great Wall (Bamboo) House

 A very short Q&A session followed his oration:

Instructor: "I would like to hear your opinions and views about working within an urban context."

Mr. Kuma: "Working within urban contexts always provides a lot of restraints, depending upon the country you're working in, which is why I prefer working outside of the city major. But I'd have to say that compromise has to be made, and two things need to be achieved; safety and human space."

 Student: "Please tell us how you develop your ideas and progress them. What lines of thinking do you employ?"

Mr. Kuma: "I prefer not to use drawings, though they are a necessary part of the process, but I like to work with models rather than images. The real feeling you get from working with them, even small ones are always better than images. And at a certain point, a reality check through these models is made rather than getting caught up with images and drawings."

Student: "Sir, please tell us how the knowledge and experience gained as a student affected or influenced you once you made the transition to a professional atmosphere. How much growth did you experience once you became a professional, was there a marked difference?"

Mr. Kuma: "Err...I was not a good student [Laughs]! I didn't study practically in class so much, and I didn't study details too much. I liked to travel, to see real buildings. I was always with friends looking at real buildings. And we would have...err...fights about them [Laughs]. These fights are important, and an important experience."

That marked the end, and he was gifted a few tokens of appreciation and applause before he quietly made his way off the stage and out of the auditorium. I quickly escaped my cramped spot against the side wall, and managed to reward my deprived lungs with fresh air. All in all I enjoyed the showing, and learned a few things. I do hope that we manage to bring more guests like that of Kengo Kuma to tell us of their views and experiences regarding a career I'm stuck with, I mean that I most assuredly enjoy (hehe, mum and dad). Besides, more guests can only be healthy for my blog ;P.


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