|Our principle for the design of art schools was that the architecture must lift up the students’ spirits. Nowadays, we see lots of dry, dispiriting school buildings perhaps because there were requests for the buildings that are easy for maintenance. In order to counter such tendency, the new building for Kyoto University of Art and Design had to show something new.|
|/ Kengo Kuma|
However, the project turned out to be extremely difficult for the architects. The first challenge was its site, which was almost a cliff. To build a big-scale building in this environment seemed technically impossible. The architecture came into being with the suggestion from the structural engineer, Norihide Imamura, that the 67-strong earth anchors would link the cliff and the building.
Beause the new building stands at the core of all campus activities, it had to be a place to smoothen the flow of various logistics in and around. Rather than designing a new solid object Kuma’s concept was that the architecture itself could be made flexible to play different roles, such as a bridge, slope or a hole.
The same approach was applied for the facade. The neighboring building, Ningenkan, was a massive stone-clad building. Had the architects repeated the same pattern for Shiseikan, the impact of of the neighbor’s colonnade would have been ruined.
So while avoiding colonnades, Kuma attempted to preserve the force and coarseness of the stone. Triple-stacking of pure granite to the south responded well to the colonnade of Ningenkan, and the stone pillars to the west, with the passages in between, became visually effective.
Strong enough to be the symbol of the university, yet delicate as if it could naturally fuse into its landscape, designated as a scenic preservation area.
|Students tend to vacillate between opting for “heaviness” or “lightness” in architecture. We wanted to encourage them by taking the third way. In this way, we abandoned the style of “wholeness” of classical architecture by proposing a design that thoroughly “compromises” with our neighboring environment.|
|/ Kengo Kuma|