Patterns and Layering: Japanese Spatial Culture, Nature and Architecture

Patterns and Layering: Japanese Spatial Culture, Nature and Architecture by Salvator-John Liotta and Matteo Belfiore

According to renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, “this book aims to establish the interrelation between patterns and layering within architecture. These two previously detached notions can now be integrated into one methodology mediated by structural concepts. Patterns and Layering is the first book to introduce this new interrelationship, which has the potential to begin a new architectural and design revolution.”



In Japanese art and textile printing, the use of patterns has a long tradition.In Japanese architecture, layering is an established technique that has already inspired the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe.

Now, the laboratory of renowned architect Kengo Kuma has developed a technically sophisticated methodology that unites patterns and layering in a single structural concept for the first time.

The book Patterns and Layering presents innovative structures that are created by stacking fragile, patterned layers. Although each individual layer can contain a variety of patterns, it will nevertheless still completely fulfill its structural responsibilities. The results are strikingly delicate, yet remarkably stable.

The book’s detailed texts explain how layering and patterns function as spatial tools with which one can create extraordinary structures that are able to coexist in harmony with nature, people, and culture. Patterns and Layering not only explores historical contexts and developments, but also shows cutting-edge experiments that were realized with valuable input from Kengo Kuma and his colleague Yusuke Obuchi. According to Kuma, the book “has the potential to begin a new architectural and design revolution.”

Editors Salvator-John A. Liotta and Matteo Belfiore, as well as other contributors, worked closely with Kengo Kuma at his research laboratory at the University of Tokyo.

Thanks to Kuma’s enthusiasm for the book as well as the inclusion of design details such as silkscreen prints and calligraphy, Patterns and Layering embodies the Japanese understanding of space, nature, and architecture—page for page, layer for layer.

About the author(s)

Salvator-John A. Liotta is a licensed architect, partner of LAPS-Architecture, researcher at CNRS-LAVUE UMR 7218 in Paris, researcher at Kengo Kuma Laboratory at the University of Tokyo, adjunct professor at the National Institute of Architecture of Rome, and a correspondent of Domus, Compasses and pressT/Letter in Japan. After graduating from the University of Palermo and completing a master’s degree at the National Institute of Architecture in Rome, in 2005 he moved to Japan where he earned a PhD with a study on the urban identity of Tokyo. In 2012 he published “Patterns and Layering: Japanese Spatial Culture, Nature, and Architecture” a book about the convergence between parametricism, digital fabrication, and Japanese traditional patterns. His architectural works have been exhibited at —among other places— MoMA in New York, Venice Architecture Biennale, MAXXI Rome, Berlin Art Biennale, and Warsaw Modern Art Museum.


Matteo Belfiore graduated with First Class Honours in Architecture at the University of Greenwich in London before completing his studies at the Architectural Association, gaining the AA Diploma in 2012.
 In 2008 he was awarded the RIBA Bronze Medal for the project Invisible University Library, which reimagined the role of the university in the context of contemporary audio and broadcasting technologies.
 He has worked as an architectural assistant at Potter+Holmes Architects and as a freelance modelmaker. He taught first-year architecture students at the University of Greenwich and the Architectural Association.


Buy book here

Paperback | ISBN 3899554612 | 176 pp. | Gestalten Verlag | October 2012



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