When designing a building, Kengo Kuma looks for melodies, sounds, rhythms. Because, he says, the experience of space is choral and gives a feeling of infinity

It is not from the form that the projects of Kengo Kuma are born: music and its rules are indeed at the basis of the master Japanese way of designing.

"When I design architectural projects, I make sure I work on rhythm and tone rather than form", Kuma told the lectio magistralis he gave at Creative Connections where it was present with Bamboo 竹 Ring: || Weaving a Symphony of Lightness and Form.

The installation, which in a few weeks will be installed at Arte Sella, was a three-dimensional transposition of Kuma's approach to integrated design with music.

Its woven structure was made with bamboo rings, a material used to create musical instruments such as flutes and guitars, and carbon fiber. And it was, itself, an instrument, in which haptic motors, Mems speaker strips and translators worked to produce an immersive base and higher musical frequencies to echo bamboo with violin vibrato and effect of a percussion instrument.

Rhythm and melody in architecture

“What I try to create in architecture is a melody in which, as in music, each sound cannot be divided,” said Kuma. “Only by giving the composition a precise rhythm can I make people experience this feeling of infinity. Accuracy is the rhythm. Without rhythm, architecture does not generate any emotion. As in jazz, it is a fundamental component, unlike the melody which can take a back seat”.

From theory to practice

This of Kuma is an approach that is found in his practice of architecture.

In fact, from homes to installations, the Japanese master always seeks rhythm: using replicable elements, bamboo canes for the transmission of sound waves, piles of wood that recall the progress of the forests.

Music and nature

Behind the passion for music there is the respect and inspiration that come from nature.

"The main influence on Kuma's architecture", curator Clare Farrow told the lectio magistralis, "comes from the thin lines of the walls, from the centrality of the tatami, from the gardens of Japanese houses". As a child, Kuma played a lot in contact with the earth, heard the sound of the wind, saw how the light reflected on the bamboo in the garden and found all of this fascinating.

Of the great influence these sensations have had in his work, Kuma wrote in Small Natural Architetcture , a sort of theoretical manifesto (published in 2015) for humble architecture, sustainable, sensitive to natural materials and places.

A respect , this towards nature, which took concrete form in the installation at the Statale also in the focus on circularity, disassembly and reuse: "The in fact, the work is in the shape of a ring (made up of bamboo and carbon fiber circles) to symbolize strength and transparency.

The combination of these two extremely lightweight and strong materials is designed to withstand ecological upheavals such as earthquakes and tsunamis. With respect to the principles of Western philosophy or earth / air / water / fire, I introduced the typical element of Japanese Zen philosophy: the void ", Kuma pointed out.

A resistance that will be tested shortly, when Bamboo 竹 Ring: || Weaving a Symphony of Lightness and Form will be installed at Arte Sella, in Trentino...