Kengo Kuma: A smart city’s architecture should reflect culture, history of the place

One of the significant Japanese figures in contemporary architecture, Kuma, has designed the Suntory Museum of Art in Tokyo, Bamboo Wall House in China, Besançon Art Center in France and Kirosan Observatory.

Written by Srishti Choudhary | Chandigarh | Published:February 17, 2016 7:59 am
Chandigarh, Punjab, smart city, kengo kuma, japanese architect, olympics stadium, chandigarh architecture, suntory museum of art, bamboo wall house, besancon art center, kirosal obserbatory Kengo Kuma Japanese Architect at Government College of Architecture in sector 12 Chandigarh on Tuesday, February 16 2016. (Express Photo by Sahil Walia)

In city with a proposal to develop the smart cities of Punjab, Japan-based architect, Kengo Kuma, who had recently won the bid to design the new Olympics stadium in Tokyo says, a city’s architecture should reflect the culture and history of the place, to be truly called a smart city.

One of the significant Japanese figures in contemporary architecture, Kuma, has designed the Suntory Museum of Art in Tokyo, Bamboo Wall House in China, Besançon Art Center in France and Kirosan Observatory. Last year in December, he was selected as the architect for 2020 Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.

“A smart city just does not mean a comfortable city. It has to reflect the culture and tradition of that place. There is a philosophy behind every city, and the development plan of the city should express that. Earlier, cities were developed with an idea of cultural expansion, though, it is about fulfillment of needs now,” said Kuma.

On his first visit to the city, Kuma said that he looks forward to visiting Capitol Complex, and Le Corbusier Centre, Sector 19. “It is important to respect the culture of a place, while designing the architecture, and Le Corbusier had shown that craftsmanship while designing the city. None of his works here are a copy of buildings in France. It is original. In 1950s, it was not easy to build a city like this,” says Kuma.

Highlighting the common link between the two countries, Kuma says, both India and Japan have immense diversity of cultures in their cities. “Like India, Japan is not one uniform country. There are so many villages, each one with their history, deeply rooted in their traditions. Students of architecture should research on the historical background of a place. That knowledge empowers you. The past and the future always connects, sometimes through technology,” he says.

The architect’s firm consisting of over 150 architects is in talks with the Punjab government with a proposal to develop Ludhiana as a smart City. “Ludhiana and Gurgaon are the two cities in North, that we are interested to develop, but it is in the initial stage, and we are here to hold talks with the government representatives, following which we will go ahead,” said Sonia Dhillion Marty, Kuma’s business associate.

Kuma also delivered a lecture to the students of Chandigarh College of Architecture, Sector 12. “Some students from Japan had visited the institute in 2014, and we are mulling to strengthen the cultural exchange by organizing more of such interaction programmes in the near future,” said Professor J P Singh, CCA.