This February, the Portland Japanese Garden will host the first exhibition in the U.S. that explores the architecture of Kengo Kuma. The month-long exhibition, in collaboration with the Center for Architecture in Portland, is the first major opportunity to formally introduce Kengo Kuma’s ideas to the public by focusing on his design for the Japanese Garden’s Cultural Crossing expansion project. The expansion project is Kuma’s first public commission in North America.
Connecting to Continuity
Using project images, construction drawings, and an interactive use of space, Tsunagu: Connecting to the Architecture of Kengo Kuma will focus on the philosophy of continuity in Kuma’s work: continuity between nature, natural materials, and Japanese tradition.
Balazs Bognar, Chief Manager at Kengo Kuma & Associates, is the exhibition’s curator. “Kengo Kuma is known for connective spaces, often putting nature and the human experience first,” says Bognar. “His emphasis on light as well as locally sourced materials makes the Portland Japanese Garden’s expansion project the perfect lens through which people can see and understand the guiding ideas of Kuma-san’s work.”
A Multi-Sensory Experience
The show will also feature materials that can be touched, seen, and smelled, such as sudare screens, tatami mats, and samples of the Port Orford cedar and Oregon granite used in the Garden’s building design. “This exhibition is intended to be enjoyed by people of all backgrounds, not just those in architecture,” says Bognar. “Kengo Kuma’s work is felt on a fundamental level, so we’re putting several ‘layers’ into the exhibition so the experience is immersive. It will be rewarding for those just visiting, for those wanting to understand key concepts, and for those who really want to get in to the details.”