What is fabric?

Kengo Kuma is a Japanese Architect, he weaves materials together to produce structures. Back in 2020, he worked with Australian artist Geoffrey Nees to create this semi-circular pavilion using timber harvested from dead or felled trees at Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens. Commissioned for the NGV Triennial and based on traditional Japanese architecture, the Botanical pavilion is made of wood with the interlocking slats assembled as pieces of a puzzle and held together by tension and gravity. The timber used was collected from trees felled or removed during the millennium drought (1996–2010) at the Royal Botanic Gardens. It is a sensorial journey in which visitors are exposed to different essences of wood, different timber species have been arranged by colour, the timber slats were arranged in a pattern with a dark to light colour gradient as visitors moved along the walkway.

“In the design of this pavilion, small wooden pieces are assembled like a three-dimensional puzzle to form a structural arch. This approach is inspired by the Japanese carpentry tradition of using smaller elements, relying on joinery to achieve larger spans,” he added. (Architecture news & editorial desk, s.d)

This pavilion a beautiful structure, with the small pieces of wood he was able to layer them and create an organic shape, I really like how the light casts a pattern of shadows that mimics the shapes, they seem to dancing.

Fig. 1 – Images of Botanical Pavilion by Kengo Kuma and Australian artist Geoff Nees 

Another of his designs is the Yure, a Japanese expression for a nomadic habitat moving in the wind. The project is made from identical wooden pieces that are connected vertically and obliquely using traditional crafted joints, a technique commonly used by Japanese carpenters. The structure appears different from every view, seeking to blur the lines between art and architecture and create a distinct diversity of space.

Fabric style are designed to hang inside the structure, waterproofing the inside, and creating the structure’s separate rooms. Without the fabric hanging inside the open lattice of pieces create an organic and flexible space, which allows free movement through and up the structure by using the ladder to access the bedroom, living room, and terrace.

This structure reminds me of when I was a child and we used matchsticks to make an object or structure, glueing them together to hold them. It’s also reminiscent of building a tower using playing cards, you would try really hard to build it as high as you could until they would eventually collapse in a heap!

Fig. 2 – Images of Yure sculptural Pavilion in Paris, by Kengo Kuma


(Architecture news & editorial desk, s.d) https://www.architectureanddesign.com.au/news/kengo-kuma-s-botanical-pavilion-at-ngv-triennial# (accessed 19/8/22)


Fig. 1 – Botanical Pavilion by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and Australian artist Geoff Nees  https://www.dezeen.com/2020/12/19/kengo-kuma-botanical-pavilion-ngv-triennial-architecture/ (accessed 19/8/22)

Fig. 2 – Yure sculptural Pavilion in Paris, by Kengo Kuma https://www.archdaily.com/776541/kengo-kuma-designs-sculptural-pavilion-in-paris (accessed 19/8/22)

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