If traditional Japanese paper ambiguously exists between solid and liquid, earth belongs to the world of solid, liquid and gas – albeit metaphysically – says Kengo Kuma. He grew up in a traditional-style house that had earth-finished walls, and he remembers how the particles came off of the walls, drifted in the air and eventually landed on tatami mattresses. Earth was solid walls, but was also particles floating in the air and dust collected on the floor. And when it was cleaned, it quickly dissolved in the water. It belonged to the world of continuity and there were no explicit boundaries between the different states, he maintains as he looks back.

Earth can bring the breath of nature in architecture. It has the texture that make us feel earthy and homey. Kuma leverages water in different ways to embrace the potental that earth has, sometimes applying it on the metal surfaces, sometimes using it as a bed for plants to spontaneously grow on it.

The Adobe Repository for Buddha Statue
Location: Yamaguchi, Japan
Design: 2001-2002   Construction: 2002-2003

The Mushizuka (Mound for Insects)
Location: Kanagawa, Japan
Design: 2013-2015   Construction: 2014-2015