KENGO KUMA: The Starbucks


One of the things I most loved about Japan was unexpectedly discovering the most spectacular contemporary buildings sitting on quiet corners.

I love the work of many Japanese architects – to me, they set the standard. However, for this post, I wanted to portray the wow factor I’m talking about. As in “Wow… I went to buy a cup of coffee and the Starbucks looked like this!”.

This Starbucks, situated in Fukuoka in Southern Japan, is on a street that leads to one of the most major shrines in Japan, Dazaifu Tenmagu. Traditional 1 – 2 story Japanese buildings line the street. Architect Kengo Kuma sought to harmonize with this townscape by creating a fluid space through the use of an intricate woven system of sticks.

Here, the architect alludes to the traditional use of wooden post-and-beam structures in Classical Japanese Architecture and the system of joinery where wooden edges and pegs are used to secure joints (without the use of metal fasteners for primary structural roles). Also characteristic of Japanese architecture, the structure itself is the main element of the architectural design (it is not hidden within walls but exposed to express form and pattern).

Kengo Kuma’s expressive use of space reminded me of what architecture can do. Working in interiors has its rewards, but I must say, seeing his projects gets my heart racing, mouth watering and quite frankly, makes me miss architecture.





For more of Kengo Kuma’s brilliant work click here!

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