Kengo Kuma – onomatopoeia architecture

Kengo Kuma – onomatopoeia architecture

Cimorelli Editore 2023
English version of the exhibition catalogue by Scriptum

On the occasion of the 18th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice, from 14 May to 26 November Acp art capital partners – Palazzo Franchetti hosts the exhibition Kengo Kuma – onomatopoeia architecture.

The title of the exhibition Onomatopoeia architecture quotes the book Onomatopoeia written by Kuma in 2015, in which the architect says: “If I had to explain my idea of architecture in words, it would be very difficult to make myself understood; then I express myself through sounds that evoke materialities, with onomatopoeias that are closer to physical sensations”.

Kengo Kuma with his onomatopoeic terms wants to create a bridge between man and nature, it is a very poetic and very Japanese approach.

For this exhibition, Kuma identifies thirteen onomatopoeic Japanese words, whose repeated sound, a bit funny and a bit manga-like, translates some key terms of his design practice. The architect uses these sound-words to communicate and transmit the projects to his collaborators and clients, to evoke sensations, saying, for example: “I would like this project to be more ‘para para’, more played on solids and voids”. It is a very original concept in architecture: instead of using complex theoretical-philosophical lucubrations, Kuma explains empathy with materials purely through sounds. And he adds: “We have to make architecture on a human and nature scale, to resonate with the materials through a voice, which is precisely the one expressed by these onomatopoeic words”.