Japanese architect Kengo Kuma at the V&A Dundee design museum, which he designed, in Dundee (Scotland) on September 12, 2018.

It is rare that an author does not wish to influence or qualify what he wrote ten years ago. This is the case of the architect Kengo Kuma, whose book Natural Architecture (Arléa, 208 pages, 15 euros), published in 2008 in Japan, was recently translated into French. “The evolution of the world – global warming and destruction of the environment – on the contrary confirms my intuitions of the time. More than ever, we must get out of the concrete and steel boxes that our constructions are, and renew the link between nature and architecture ”, he assures.

From the terrace of his office, on the top floor of a small cubic building in the chic district of Aoyama in Tokyo, we see, in the distance, towers storming the sky. Following our gaze, he smiles: “Yes, this is what should be avoided. We must change the texture of the city, think differently about architecture. “

One of the most famous and prolific architects, whose achievements are spread across the world – in France, the Cité des arts de Besançon or the Conservatoire d’Aix-en-Provence (Bouches-du-Rhône), and, soon, the gallery for the protection of polychrome sculptures on the portal of Saint-Maurice d’Angers cathedral – also created the monumental national stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, postponed, in principle, to the summer of 2021.

Read the interview with Kengo Kuma (2018): “Architecture is a sequence that does not stop”

Despite its gigantism (60,000 seats), the stadium nonetheless bears its signature: 2,000 cubic meters of cedar trees from all over Japan were used for the sails and “The ventilation is completely natural, with auxiliary fans”, he specifies. An approach from which the post-Covid architecture could be inspired for buildings that “breathe”, where air circulates.

“The reign of the dark concrete “

“In the XXe century, new techniques have intoxicated architects and fostered a never-before-seen propensity for monumentality, by further subjugating humans to the law of profitability. It was, in my opinion, the greatest bankruptcy of 20th century architecturee century, he continues. Hard and rigid, this architecture has banished the dream: it imprisons, generates stress. It is the task of the architects of this century to renew with a more flexible, more human conception of their work. In XXe century, we were fascinated by the form, the style, but we ignored the details. The generation of architects to which I belong learned, at the university, the techniques of construction in concrete, the reinforcements of steel, as if it was necessary to unify the world under the rule of a single technique. But nothing from traditional knowledge; he passed for the enemy of modernity. And it was the reign of the dark concrete that trivializes the urban landscape. ”

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