Speaking of Kengo Kuma, and of 2010, I am immensely looking forward to the completion of his Asakusa Culture and Tourist Information Center this year. Taito Ward held a competition in 2008 and received over 300 proposals to design a tourist hotspot that would eventually complement the Tokyo Sky Tree, set for completion in 2011. In the end, Kengu Kuma beat out Inui Kumiko with his design of stacking 7 units on top of each other.
The structure is an example of “losing,” one of Kuma’s primary architectural principles which he articulates and disseminates in his 2004 book, Losing Architecture (負ける建築). In his book Kuma emphasizes the need for site-specific work that takes into consideration, and heads to, the surrounding environment. It’s the antithesis of a considerable number of structures, both in Tokyo and New York, that “wins” out over the surrounding environment because of a complete disregard for it.
The 7th floor will be a café, the 4th – 6th floors will be multipurpose gallery/activity spaces, the 3rd floor will be devoted to admin and the 1st and 2nd floor with be tourist information center/lounge.