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Kengo Kuma

Time magazine names Kengo Kuma world's most influential architect

Japanese architect Kengo Kuma has been named as the only architect in Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people of 2021.

Kuma, who heads up Tokyo-based Kengo Kuma and Associates, was included in the annual ranking of the people the US magazine judges to be the world's most influential.

The wooden exterior of Japan National Stadium
Top: Kengo Kuma has been named among the 100 most influential people of 2021. Above: he designed the Japan National Stadium

He was recognised for his "intricate buildings", which Kenjiro Hosaka, director of the Shiga Museum of Art, described as "losing architecture".

"Kengo Kuma champions an ideal of 'losing architecture' – intricate buildings that disappear into their environs – although it's hard to miss the new National Stadium in Japan when walking through the heart of Tokyo," said Hosaka in the citation.

The wooden exterior of Japan National Stadium
The stadium features areas of greenery on its exterior

This year Kuma was in the limelight as he designed the Japan National Stadium, which was the centrepiece of this year's Olympics Games.

"His stylistic fingerprints can be seen throughout the elaborate project, designed by Kengo Kuma and Associates in collaboration with two other firms for this year's Olympic Games," said Hosaka.

"Greenery dots the facade of the oval-shaped structure, the centerpiece of this year's Games, allowing a series of wooden eaves – a favored material for Kuma, procured from prefectures across Japan – to better blend in with the surrounding garden."

V&A Dundee by Kengo Kuma
Kuma has designed buildings around the world including the V&A Dundee

Alongside the stadium, Kuma has designed significant buildings around the world. These include the V&A Dundee in Scotland, Folk Art Museum in China and the GC Prostho Museum Research Cente in Japan.

In 2019, Time magazine named V&A Dundee in its list of the World's Greatest Places for the year.

We recently rounded up 10 projects that showcase Kuma's "unexpected and innovative" approach to architecture from a book dedicated to the architect.

Philip Jodidio, who edited the book, told Dezeen that he believed the architect was less appreciated than other leading Japanese architects, including Shigeru Ban and Tadao Ando.

"Kuma is not as celebrated as these other figures, perhaps because his style is more dependent on place and available materials," said Philip Jodidio.

Being named on the Time list represents a growing appreciation of the architect's work.

GC Prostho Museum Research Center
He also designed the GC Prostho Museum Research Cente

Kuma is the latest architect to feature on the annual list. He follows American architect Jeanne Gang who was included in 2019, Diller Scofidio + Renfro co-founder Elizabeth Diller in 2018, British-Ghanian architect David Adjaye in 2017 and BIG founder Bjarke Ingels in 2016.