Well-known Japanese architect Kengo Kuma has been named in the 2021 Time 100 Most Influential People list. Kuma is also the only architect in this annual ranking of the world’s most influential personalities assembled by the American magazine.

Kuma heads the Tokyo-based architecture studio, Kengo Kuma and Associates, which was recently in the news for designing the new National Stadium for the Tokyo Olympics. One of Japan’s leading contemporary architects, the 67-year-old Kuma has led the design of several prestigious projects across the world including GC Prostho Museum Research Center, Japan; Folk Art Museum, China; V&A Dundee, Scotland; and The Exchange, Australia.   

In his citation for the Time 100 recognition, Shiga Museum of Art director Kenjiro Hosaka describes Kuma as someone who champions an ideal of ‘losing architecture’ – intricate buildings that disappear into their environs.

Elaborating on the National Stadium project – the centrepiece of this year’s Games, Hosaka said, “His stylistic fingerprints can be seen throughout the elaborate project, designed by Kengo Kuma and Associates in collaboration with two other firms for this year’s Olympic Games.”

“Greenery dots the facade of the oval-shaped structure... allowing a series of wooden eaves – a favoured material for Kuma, procured from prefectures across Japan – to better blend in with the surrounding garden. The eaves slant upward to gently welcome visitors inside, where tens of thousands of forest-toned seats await.”

According to Hosaka, public projects such as the Olympic stadium, which require architects to accept certain conditions and demands, and limit their freedom of expression, can nonetheless gain natural sympathy and create a welcome new space for communities.

Image credit: Nils Jorgensen—I-Images/Eyevine/Redux (Source: Time magazine)