(Image credit: press)

The Royal Academy annual architecture lecture is an event the whole architectural community awaits with much anticipation. With previous names like Rem Koolhaas (1997), Peter Zumthor (2006) and Elizabeth Diller (2007) the lecture has, since its creation in 1991, become one of the capital’s biggest architectural events of the year. The chosen man for this year’s sold-out lecture was the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, flown in from Tokyo especially.

Kengo Kuma lecture, London

(Image credit: press)

Click here to see examples of Kuma's architecture.

Taking the audience through a number of his landmark works, from the Lotus House, to the Bamboo Wall, and from the Louis Vuitton Tokyo HQ, to his ongoing work in France, the Tokyo-based architect talked about his favourite projects and materials, underlining his preference for local materials. He also shared some of his secrets – for example, how he manages to create transparency while using stone. And without giving too much away, he spoke about his current ‘top secret’ projects, among them, a new use for bamboo he is working on.

Speaking of his own philosophy Kuma described his love for ‘weak buildings’, his admiration for Bruno Taut’s work and his agreement with Taut’s description of Japanese architecture as ‘architecture of relationships.’ He revealed his belief that the fine details of architecture are not only to be discovered through big, landmark civic buildings. ‘For me small projects are very important,’ he explained, while showing his smaller works, like the Frankfurt inflatable Tea Room: ‘they allow me more time to study everything in much more detail’.

However, most of all, the architect stressed his love for nature, and the physical aspects of building and construction, and also his admiration towards landscape design. ‘I would like to use nature as much as I can,’ concluded Kuma, ‘and I would like to have the chance to keep studying nature too, as much as possible’.

An exhibition of Kengo Kuma’s work, Nature and Architecture, will be on at the Architecture Space at the Royal Academy until 12th August 2008.

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).