Kengo Kuma Explores Lightness and Form Through “Bamboo Ring”

September 15, 2021



Shan Arcega

Over the years, renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma of Kengo Kuma and Associates has been turning heads with his ability to bend wooden elements like bamboo into buildings like the Great Bamboo Wall House. Last 2019, the architect once again drew eyes at the V&A for the London Design Festival where he flaunted “Bamboo Ring”, an installation that combines bamboo and carbon fiber. Together, the materials can be used to make self-supporting structures that amount to earthquake-proof architecture. 

The installation was made in collaboration with Eijiri Structural Engineers and Kuma’s Kengo Kuma Laboratory at The University of Tokyo. The structure’s basic component is made up of a two-diameter ring made by combining strips of Phyllostachys edulis–a bamboo species native to China and Taiwan and can be seen in Japan — with carbon fiber. Bamboo Ring is located in V&A’s courtyard, floating above a shallow pool of water and presents a giant doughnut form with one side curved upwards to create a graceful arch. By pulling both ends at the same time, the structure will naturally deform. 

Bamboo Ring was one of the many installations included in the 2019 London Design Festival. This year, Kuma collaborated with leading smart device manufacturer and innovator OPPO to turn Bamboo Ring into a multisensory 3D installation that carries pioneering music technology.

Through structural sound technologies like new haptic motors, MEMS speaker strips, and exciters, Bamboo Ring works as a musical instrument onlookers can enjoy walking around. With its sound technology, immersive base and higher frequencies are produced and reverberate throughout the woven bamboo bands, beautifully playing a series of orchestral scores composed by Japanese violinist Midori Komachi. 

Bamboo Ring is currently one of Milan Design Week’s installations until September 19, 2021. At the end of the event, the installation with be donated to a contemporary art museum, Arte Sella Park in Trentino, Italy. A perfect addition to the museum filled with outdoor exhibits featuring natural materials that blend harmoniously with the mountain views of Sella Valley. 

Photos courtesy of Dezeen, Oppo, and Futurarc

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