Architect Kengo Kuma visits the newly finished Haruki Murakami LibraryWed, Apr 28, 2021
Unifying physical architecture with virtual medium
With its grand opening scheduled for October 1, 2021, the Waseda International House of Literature (nicknamed the Haruki Murakami Library) finished construction in March. Construction began last year as part of the pre-existing Building No. 4 was remodeled into the new library. After completion, we visited the library with world-renowned architect and Waseda University Professor Kengo Kuma, the man who helped design the architectural plans for this magnificent building.
Standing in front of the main entrance, we are greeted warmly by the plentiful wooden accents of the building. Here, Kuma let out a surprising remark. “The original Building No. 4 was just your average ordinary building, but its ordinariness is what makes the building stylish. Discovering the ordinary is an important theme, you see. Just how stylish, and how intriguing, our everyday life can be… Doesn’t this concept run throughout Murakami’s literature? The same concept applies when dealing with architecture.”
Next, we make our way through the interior of the building, still under preparation for the highly anticipated grand opening. Kuma continues, “With every little detail, I tried to conjure Murakami’s world to the space. When the library opens in the fall, I truly hope visitors can feel their way through each detail, enjoying their time.”
Describing the challenges with the building design, Keita Watanabe, chief project manager of Kengo Kuma and Associates, and site supervisor to the Haruki Murakami Library, commented, “For example, we showed Murakami’s kind nature through design elements, such as the railings or shelves. By implementing features such as round curvatures, we convey Murakami’s kindness through a flexible image. We wanted to do something different precisely because this is the Haruki Murakami Library.”
For architecture lovers, 2020 was a year when architecture appreciation was shifted from in-person to online, and the Haruki Murakami Library is also navigating this change. In addition to the formal opening event that will be held in October, the Library is preparing to launch a new website that will allow all those who cannot visit the library in person an online opportunity to explore its architectural features.
When asked about reality and the virtual, Kuma mentioned, “The two are companions; it’s better to think of them as consistently existing alongside each other. They certainly coexist within the world of Murakami’s literature, right? For this library, the real structure of this building and the virtual representation online will unite, and I hope that becomes a unique experience for all.”
A unique experience for all. Kuma’s words leave us excited for the unveiling of his latest craft.