Display of KU graduates’ work at the Japanese Embassy

Kingston’s recent architecture graduates are featured in an exhibition at the Embassy of Japan, with their replica of a historical Japanese bridge.

Kim Richters

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The 22 former students, who studied architecture at Knight’s Park last year, re-built an arch from a historical wooden bridge in Iwakuni, Japan.

The students’ copy was built in a 1:3 scale and it is now part of an exhibition about the real Kintaikyo bridge at the Japanese Embassy in Green Park, Central London.

The project was led and supervised by architecture lecturer Takeshi Hayatsu and senior lecturer Tim Gough.

The point of the project was to bring Japanese culture and architecture closer to the students.

Two week bridge build

The students built the bridge in just two weeks and only limited material was available – the work was hard and it was taking its toll. “The students were in the studio from nine to six every day for two weeks. There was a lot to plan, to program and to manage,” Mr Hayatsu, who is originally from Japan, said.

“The actual making of a building or, in this case a bridge, is a great experience for them,” he added. “I believe good design comes from the process of making not just from the theory on the computer or on paper.”

“A big hit”

The students originally made the 12m arch for an assembly of the Architecture school. However, the Embassy of Japan approached them and suggested a mutual exhibition. Simon Wright, senior coordinator for cultural affairs at the Embassy of Japan, called the embassy’s first project with KU “a big hit”. “What they built is incredible, it is beautiful. It was a pleasure to have them here and work with them,“ he said, adding that the students’ re-building of the arch inside the embassy was quick and “with a minimum of fuss”.

The original bridge goes back to 1673, when it was built by the order of Kikkawa Hiroyoshi. Since then it has been rebuilt and repaired over 100 times.

Unlike the students’ arch, the bridge is made of Japanese Red Pine, Japanese Cypress, Japanese Cedar, Chestnut and Oak wood.

The exhibition Kintaikyo – Building a Japanese Bridge is running until November 16 at the Embassy of Japan, 101-104 Piccadilly, W1J 7JT. Admission is free; just bring your ID as it is necessary to provide proof of identity when entering embassy grounds.

Click here to see a video of the students working on the arch.  

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