Archiportale meets Kengo Kuma

Stonescape: water, stone and ceramics to create a Zen landscape

by Malcolm Clark
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The Editorial office of Archiportale met Kengo Kuma at the opening night of Bologna Water Design 2012.

The Japanese maestro illustrated the concept and elements inspiring “Stonescape”, the installation created inside one of the rooms of the former “Bastardini” Hospital of Bologna in collaboration with Agape, MAPEI and Il Casone, which interprets the relationship between water and stone in an evocative manner.

Kengo Kuma talked about the material importance a product now has within a design project.

Archiportale: Stonescape is the title of the installation which is officially presented this evening. Could you describe the project? What elements have inspired you? Why is it called “Stonescape”?

Kengo Kuma: "I wanted to put Agape products in the landscape and not in the building, as I want to combine the special beautiful stone, Pietra Serena, and the water and the Agape products. The three things come together to create one continuous landscape: That is the meaning of the name I have given.”

A: Can you tell us about the experience of collaborating with Italian brands, like Agape, Mapei and Il Casone?

KK: “I have been working with the two companies and I know the uniqueness of the companies very well. Il Casone has a quality of stone and their technique is excellent for the quality of materials and I think that the excellency of Il Casone and the excellency of Agape products can make something. I just create the harmony between the two companies.”

A: Your work is focused on interpreting the landscape as a key element of architectural design. Architecture is the “boundary” between inside and outside. In this installation, you interpreted water by re-creating an external landscape and an internal one. How did this site (the old Bastardini hospital) inspire your project, in this imaginative design interpretation?

KK: “I like the nothingness of the space. This nothingness inspires me and it is like the typical configuration of the Zen garden in Kyoto. In Kyoto you can create highly charged environment even in very small spaces. Similarly, in this room I wanted to redesign the atmosphere and the magic of the Zen garden.”

A: You have designed both the stone and ceramics. Can you describe the characteristics of these materials, in your experience?

KK: “If what matters most in twentieth century design is form, in design today, the material quality of a project alone is fundamental. Materiality that is captured perfectly by working with materials such as stone and ceramics. In the Stonescape project I wanted to revive the character of material strength, usually expressed by the use of stone in architecture, by transferring it to the design, at the same time enhancing the beauty of these two materials.”

Watch the whole video interview with Kengo Kuma:

Photo Credis: Tommaso Petrella