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Kengo Kuma says architects should learn from sushi

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Japanese architect Kengo Kuma has criticised the architecture of Frank Gehry and other contemporary architects, and claimed they could learn a lot from how sushi is made.

Speaking at the Royal Academy of the Arts (RA) in London this morning (14 July), Kuma said: ‘I think the 20th century is not a good time for architecture.

‘The system of the economy has been using architecture as a kind of money-making machine, and has created a strangeness in architecture.'

Kuma, who is delivering the Annual Architecture Lecture on Nature and Architecture at the RA tonight added: 'At the same time, mass production and the industrialisation of architecture have destroyed the historical variety in architectural construction.’

The loss of traditional construction methods and materials, said Kuma, had led to uniformity that, despite producing ‘strange’ facades, had created 'interiors that are divorced from human life'.

He said: ‘For Frank Gehry’s buildings, the shape is unique, but the material is very industrial. Inside his buildings, the relationship between the material and the human body is the same as with all 20th-century architecture.’

Kuma cited his Bamboo House in Shanghai, and his upcoming resort building for the Turks and Caicos (AJ 07.07.08) as examples of good design. He also claimed that architects could learn from sushi.

He said: ‘Sushi is a good metaphor for my architecture. The importance in sushi is to choose the best material from the place, in season.

'If the journey of the ingredients is too long, the taste of the sushi is compromised. That is a problem that can’t be solved by modern technology, and that programme of using local material in season is the secret of good taste, and the secret of my style.’

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