By Michael Webb
Kengo Kuma: Complete Works. (Thames & Hudson, $65)
In his erudite introduction, Kenneth Frampton calls Kengo Kuma “quintessentially Japanese” and the 25 projects the architect has selected are deeply rooted in the craft traditions of that country. The title is misleading: Only a quarter of Kuma’s buildings are featured, and the large commercial projects in Beijing that have sustained his practice in recent years are omitted. It’s a wise choice, for Kuma works best on a modest scale with traditional materials. In his foreword, he writes with feeling of his collaboration with traditional craftsmen in rural Shikoku and in Tohuku, a region ravaged by the earthquake and tsunami of 3/11. “The richness and strength of that culture cannot be understood until one has worked with the people who live there—until one has eaten their food, drunk their sake, talked with the craftsmen and made things with them,” he writes.