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Friday, October 5, 2018

Japanese Architect Designs Taiwan Starbucks

Although this is in Taiwan, Japanese architect Kuma Kengo (隈 研吾, surname first) has built a new Starbucks utilizing shipping containers. Or maybe it was designed by his Kengo Kuma and Associates architectural firm…

Located at the Hualien Bay Mall, the new Starbucks store is built using 29 shipping containers providing a total floorspace of 230 square meters (3,444 square feet) over two floors.

If you are looking at the photo above, you can see that there are four levels, but only the lower two are functional, with the upper two merely architectural design features.

Each of the shipping containers has been reinforced, according to Starbucks, which I find interesting.

These are shipping containers. Aren’t these things built to hold immense amounts of weight for transport? Aren’t these thinks stackable (with full capacity weight) in a shipping yard? Why did they need to reinforce them for a Starbucks shop?

I suppose better safe than sorry. I won’t quibble here other than that.

The outside of the white-painted containers are further modified for glazing.

Kuma only designed the exterior of the facility.

While this is the first time that Kuma has used shipping containers as part of his architectural design, Starbucks now has 45 such coffee shops globally.

The architectural design “was inspired by the foliage of coffee trees combined with the traditional Chinese bucket arch," states a Starbucks press release. "The stacking of the shipping containers created a much taller space and provides natural sunlight through the various skylights found throughout the structure."

Born on August 8, 1954 in Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa-ken, Kuma is a Japanese architect with his Kengo Kuma and Associates business he started in 1990 in Tokyo, with a branch in Paris.

He also teaches on the side in the Department of Architecture at the University of Tokyo.

While I don’t quite see it with this design, Kuma has stated a goal of recovering traditional Japanese-style architecture via a reinterpretation for the 21st century.

In 1997, he won the Architectural Institute of Japan Award and in 2009 was made an Officier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France.

Via his 2008 writings in Anti-Object: The Dissolution and Disintegration of Architecture, he says that architecture should work within its surroundings rather than dominate them—something I agree with 100 per cent.

“You could say that my aim is ‘to recover the place’. The place is a result of nature and time; this is the most important aspect. I think my architecture is some kind of frame of nature. With it, we can experience nature more deeply and more intimately. Transparency is a characteristic of Japanese architecture; I try to use light and natural materials to get a new kind of transparency.” –Kengo Kuma via Bognar, B. (2009). Material Immaterial: The New Work of Kengo Kuma. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

Some of the designs Kuma has built, include: 

  • M2 building (1989–1991);
  • Kiro-San observatory (1994);
  • Kitakami Canal Museum (1994);
  • Water/Glass, Atami (1995);
  • Bato Hiroshige Museum (2000) (Bato is a hamlet, essentially, near my hometown of Ohtawara-shi in Tochigi-ken. This design looks like an old temple, but is a museum dedicated to the work of one of my favorite ukiyo-e artists, Hiroshige (Ando). The design represents an attempt to materialize in architecture the unique spatial structure that Hiroshige created in his woodblock prints. If this had been there when I lived in the area, I would have been there at least once a month  - see image below:

Bato Hiroshige Museum
Other designs:  

  • Stone Museum (2000);
  • Great (Bamboo) Wall House, Beijing (2002);
  • Plastic House (2002);
  • LVMH Group Japan headquarters, Osaka (2003);
  • Lotus House (2003);
  • Suntory's Tokyo office building;
  • Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum (2005);
  • Kodan apartments (2005);
  • Water Block House (2007);
  • The Opposite House, Beijing (2008);
  • Nezu Museum, Minato, Tokyo (2009);
  • V&A Dundee, Scotland (2010–2018);
  • Stone Roof (2010);
  • Taikoo Li Sanlitun, Beijing (2010);
  • Akagi Jinja and Park Court Kagurazaka (2010);
  • Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum (2011);
  • Meme Meadows Experimental House, Hokkaido. Japan (2012);
  • Wisdom Tea House (2012);
  • Seibu 4000 series Fifty-two Seats of Happiness tourist train refurbishment (2016);
  • Japanese Garden Cultural Village, Portland, Oregon, USA (2017);
  • Eskisehir Modern Art Center (2018);
  • New National Stadium (Tokyo) (to be completed in 2019);
  • 1550 Alberni, apartment building in Vancouver, Canada (to be completed in 2020).

Below is a concept image of the 1550 Alberni architecture, and I only include it because it’s a soon-to-be Canadian apartment building.

1550 Aberni apartment in Vancouver, BC, Canada, designed by Kuma, to be completed in 2020.
Andrew Joseph

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