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World-Renowned Architect Kengo Kuma Gives Lecture on "Cities and Architecture in the Post-COVID Era"

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 Architect Kengo Kuma, who was involved in the design of the Japan National Stadium—the main venue for the Tokyo Olympics—gave an online lecture for current students on the topic of "Cities and Architecture in the Post-COVID Era" on May 14, connecting the Kobe-Sanda Campus (KSC) with Kuma's office. About 530 people, including 127 first-year students from the School of Architecture, attended the event. Kuma gave examples of architecture and community-building in harmony with nature in various parts of the world, and encouraged the newly established School of Architecture and its students to "create a new era” by working on architecture that will lead the next generation.

 At the start of his lecture, Kuma mentioned that an American architect, Vories, designed the University's Nishinomiya-Uegahara campus, saying, "The use of natural materials and roofs to blend in with the surrounding landscape provides a great hint for architecture in the post-COVID era." Kuma is highly regarded in Japan and abroad. He also touched on his own role as an architect, saying that he consciously tries to understand each region and culture, and treats them as important. In designing the Starbucks Coffee building on the approach to Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine in Fukuoka Prefecture, he explained that the structure was well-received, and with its abundant use of wood, it became 'the most Instagrammable store in the world.' He explained the significance of adopting local materials. Kuma said, “In order to live in harmony with nature, we need not only passion, but also technology because we need to use environmentally friendly materials and construction methods. I would like you all to acquire such skills.” Expressing his hopes for the future, he said, "Post-COVID, we will need ‘soft’ spaces that coexist with nature. I hope that Kwansei Gakuin will create a new era by working on architecture that will lead this era.”

 After the lecture, President Murata said, "I would like you all to study not only structures, but also cities and landscapes, at our university, which is surrounded by traditional architecture. I hope you will get some hints from Mr. Kuma's lecture." Yukihiro Kadono, Dean of the School of Architecture, said, "I was able to hear about the role of architects who are active in the world, and I could feel the power and potential of architecture.” First-year students from the School of Architecture, who listened to the lecture in the classroom, commented, "I wanted to make use of the turning point in architecture caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to think about architecture and urban design that is appropriate for the current era,” and “I was able to learn about the thoughts of Mr. Kuma, who is active on the front line of architecture. It was a very meaningful experience.”

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