Contemporary

After the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake, which flattened nearly half a million traditional buildings across Japan, and Western influence after the Second World War, Japan reincarnated itself with concrete and steel as the foundation for it’s city architecture.

It’s only in the last couple of decades, with environmental concerns a key issue, that there’s been a shift back to a more traditional approach, using wood and stone.

A key figure in this movement towards more harmony with nature, is renowned architect Kengo Kuma, who through his firm ‘Kengo Kuma and Associates‘ combines contemporary architectural design with traditional materials such as wood.

Here we highlight a few of Kengo Kuma’s buildings which have wood and craftsmanship at their heart.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium

Due to be officially unveiled on 21 December 2019, Japan’s Olympic Stadium for the 2020 Games has timber-based design and construction. Designed by Kengo Kuma and Associates, the stadium’s design references features of Horyuji Temple in Nara, the oldest wooden building in the world. Amongst other wood-based features, more than 70k cubic feet of sustainable larch and cedar wood from 47 prefectures across Japan will be used to support the latticed stadium roof.

Nihondaira Yume Terrace, Shizuoka

This airy observation deck in one of Shizuoka’s most famous scenic spots has an octagonal observation gallery that is about 200 meters all the way round, affording a spectacular view of Mt. Fuji.


Using cypress wood from local Shizuoka Prefecture, this unique geometry is given the complexity of a tree branch, creating a forest-like interior that matches the outside Mt. Fuji.

Kengo Kuma And Associates

University Of Tokyo – Daiwa Research Building

Daiwa Ubiquitous Computing Research Building | Kengo Kuma And Associates

Hundreds of vertical cedar panels of wood line the facade of this building giving it a soft, non linear form.

“Our aim was to break away from conventional image of campuses that consist of hard materials such as concrete, metal or stone, and to instead design a soft building made with wood and earth.”

Kengo Kuma And Associates

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