Kengo Kuma, one of Japan’s leading architects, has been combining professional practice and academia for most of his career. In addition to creating many internationally recognized buildings all over the world, he has written extensively about the history and theory of architecture. Like his built work, his writings also reflect his profound personal philosophy.
Architecture of Defeat is no exception. Now available in English for the first time, the book explores events and architectural trends in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in both Japan and beyond. It brings together a collection of essays which Kuma wrote after disasters such as the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City on 9/11 and the earthquake and tsunami that obliterated much of the built landscape on Japan’s northern shore in a matter of minutes in 2011. Asking if we have been building in a manner that is too self-confident or arrogant, he examines architecture’s intrinsic—and often problematic—relationship to the powerful forces of contemporary politics, economics, consumerism, and technology, as well as its vital ties to society.
Despite the title, Architecture of Defeat is an optimistic and hopeful book. Rather than anticipating the demise of architecture, Kuma envisages a different mode of conceiving architecture: guided and shaped by more modesty and with greater respect for the forces of our natural world.
Beautifully designed and illustrated, this is a fascinating insight into the thinking of one of the world’s most influential architects.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Disconnection, Criticism, Form 1. From Disconnection to Connection 2. Field and Object 3. What Was Criticality? 4. The Dreariness of Form versus Freedom Part 2: Transparency, Democracy, Materialism 1. De Stijl: A Melancholic Transparency 2. Rudolf Schindler: A Vision of Democracy 3. Yoshichika Uchida: Postwar Democracy 4. Togo Murano: System and Materialism 5. Place, Building, Image: San'ai Dream Center 6. Give Us Houses, Let Us See TV: Venice Biennale 1995 7. Girls and Yogis: Venice Biennale 2000 Part 3: Brand, Virtuality, Enclosure 1. Public, Brand, Private 2. Houses and the Sex Trade 3. Concrete Time 4. Virtuality and Parasite 5. The End of Beauty 6. Enclosure Afterword
Kengo Kuma is one of the world’s leading architects. He established his architecture firm Kengo Kuma and Associates in 1990 and is a Professor at the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Tokyo, Japan.