Kengo Kuma wanted this Tokyo Starbucks to fit in with the traditional Japanese streetscape // Image Source:

Kengo Kuma and Associates are an architectural practice based in Tokyo (and Paris) and employs a familiar style throughout their work: the combination of locally-sourced, elementary materials with contemporary chicness. The latest project in Fukuoka, Tokyo is a run-of-the-mill local Starbucks… Well, not after Kuma got his hands on it.

The space continues Kuma's fascination with the most rudimentary of building materials: the Kapla-like wooden block // Image Source:

This particular Starbucks is situated en route to Dazaifu Tenman-gū, which is a Shinto shrine built over the grave of a Japanese deity. The project, therefore, had cultural significance and Kuma had to be sure as not to unsettle the historically enriching nature of the area.

Arguably, he did this well by using 6cm square blocks to both support the structure itself, and give the impression of a well kept forest. The Starbucks café is meant to feel as though you are within a tree, at one with nature. The entire wooden anatomy of the building is recyclable and if this particular store fails it can be shipped elsewhere.

Kuma used 6cm square blocks, which he suspend while giving them a functional role as part of the ceiling support. // Image Source:

The result is probably the world’s most idiosyncratic Starbucks // Image Source:

The architect wanted to suggest that Starbucks is nestling in a tree. // Image Source:

The blocks intersect obliquely, suggesting branches in a forest. // Image Source:

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