Japanese architect Kengo Kuma was in Vancouver to reveal plans for his firm’s first North American skyscraper, a mixed-use luxury tower in Vancouver.
Known as ‘Alberni by Kuma,’ the 43-story tower combines 181 residences with retail space and a restaurant in a rectilinear volume accented by “scalloped scoops” on two sides of the tower’s profile to protect view corridors within the city.
Located near the entrance to Stanley Park, the project is being developed by Westbank Corporation and Peterson.
The form of the building – a gentle curve – is the most important architecturally; the Japanese garden – a moss garden that surrounds the base of the tower – is the most important spatially.
“In Japanese space, boundaries are considered mutable and transient. This is always an important part of my work,” said Kuma. “In this project, the minimal glazing details and the layered landscaping blurs conventional boundaries to enhance the sense of continuity. The design celebrates the presence of nature in Vancouver.”
The connectivity and transparency of design is achieved through use of materials and rich subtle layering that begins at the base. The architectural components of the tower begin with small units; the panels on the facade, the timber of the woodwork, the planks in the corridors – all are aggregated into a larger whole, which form the tower.
The use of anodized aluminum and glass on the exterior allow a reflection of the neighbouring buildings and sky, giving the desired external transparency. The use of various wood on the exterior and interior add a signature similarity to Kuma’s other iconic designs.
“I have always wanted to have a project in Canada because of its closeness to nature,” said Kuma. “Typologically, this is a large-scale project in North America, a dream for any foreign architect. We have done towers, but not to this scale and level of detail.”