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海上世界文化中心 张超建筑摄影工作室 20161218-14

“Architecture is a cultural act in response to the common imagination of the time.”

Nurturing Dreams in Recent Work: Fumihiko Maki+Maki and Associates

Follow Fumihiko Maki on an imaginary tour through his oeuvre, arriving at the Sea World Culture and Arts Center: a building that combines Maki's greatest contributions to architecture.

  • 2017.12.02-2018.06.30

  • Park View Gallery

    1F, the Sea World Culture and Arts Center丨Design Society


In 2011, China Merchants Shekou Industrial ZoneHoldings Co., Ltd commissioned Fumihiko Maki todesign the Sea World Culture and Arts Center. Tocommemorate his first building in China, Maki was invited to curate a special opening exhibition, about his recent works and the SWCAC itself.

草图,槇文彦绘制(版权所有:槇综合计画事务所) Sketch by Fumihiko Maki©Maki and associates

▲ Sea World Culture and Arts Center, Sketch by Fumihiko Maki

With an architectural career spanning almost 60 years Maki’s practice has touched upon many important moments in history. From the rebuilding of postwar Japan, to the recent rebuilding of Ground Zero in New York; from utopian ideas of Metabolism and international modernism to the postmodernism of the 1980s and 1990s.

The SWCAC can be seen as a crystallization of the lessons Maki has learned throughout these years. The exhibition introduces the ideas behind the building. Against a backdrop of his formative years, Maki’s design philosophy is explained through a presentation of photos, quotes and sketches, as well as a selection of past and current projects, providing a broader understanding of the SWCAC within the full context of his long career.

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"Commissioned in 2011, we undertook the Culture Center project as our first project in China. Since then, the project has brought unique experiences in our design decisions and strong collaboration with the local teams."

Fumihiko Maki


Born in pre-war Tokyo in 1928, Maki completed the first part of his training at the University of Tokyo before continuing his studies at Harvard, USA. From 1952 to 1965 Maki studied, taught and designed projects in the United States. In 1965 he returned to Japan to start his own architectural practice: Maki and Associates. Through his overseas endeavors Maki developed the international esthetic seen throughout his work, blending eastern and western approaches to architecture and urbanism.

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Maki with model at Harvard GSD

In 1959 and 1960 Maki was awarded the Graham Foundation Fellowship which allowed him to travel to cities in Asia, the Middle East and Europe to study the architecture of diff erent cultures and ages. Here he observed how groups of buildings had grown over time to form collectives. This inspired Maki’s "Investigations in Collective Form" (Washington University in St. Louis, 1964), still relevant to his architectural practice today.

The biography section shows experiences in Maki’s early years that have remained influential throughout his practice.

Maki Design Philosophy

Maki has been an active contributor to architectural theory since the late 50’s, dedicating his practice to investigating the relation between the individual and the urban setting. The philosophy section introduces Maki's governing ideas.

In his early years Maki joined a group of radical modern architects who founded Metabolism. Influenced by the rebuilding of post-war Japan and international modernism, their concern about rapid urbanization and the future growth of cities inspired flexible living solutions that could ‘organically’ grow as populations expanded. It is during these years that Maki developed his ideas about collective form.



In his early years Maki joined a group of radical modern architects who founded Metabolism. Influenced by the rebuilding of post-war Japan and international modernism, their concern about rapid urbanization and the future growth of cities inspired flexible living solutions that could ‘organically’ grow as populations expanded. It is during these years that Maki developed his ideas about collective form.

Collective form explores the different relationships between architectural structures and how they relate to each other in a group. Hillside Terrace (1969- 1992) and Republic Polytechnic Campus (2007), are an early and a more recent example of Maki's collective form, with structures existing together in clusters.


Nebulous Whole

Space is another important principle in Maki’s work. Nebulous whole explores the ambiguity of a spatial entity as it exists in the mind of an architect. The eventual interpretation of this space is governed by sightlines, guiding one’s views outward, or to different points within the building. The Kaze-No-Oka Crematorium (1997) shows how Maki applies these sightlines, guiding the viewer’s gaze within and without the building. Space also relates to the Japanese term “Oku”, describing a focal point that attracts sightlines, or an intangible center; an idea replicated in the stepping floors and interior spaces of SPIRAL (1985).

"Another Utopia", or collective form of open spaces, combines these main principles of Maki's thinking, looking instead at the connection of spaces. Maki suggests that future cities should be organized around open spaces, as these are more flexible than buildings, and accepting of diverse public use.

Design Society丨Sea World Culture and Arts Center

In 2011 Fumihiko Maki was commissioned to design the Sea World Culture and Arts Center to house a new cultural institution in Shekou, combining his greatest contributions to architecture: a concern for the public and a commitment to style and quality. The exhibition presents the project in all its details.


The SWCAC is a monumental, white stone building, referencing the contemporary modernism of Maki and Associates. Its design is inspired by the building's surroundings as well as its varied program.

The interior and exterior provide spaces for visitors to be inspired by the cultural program, enjoy the park and seafront boulevard, as well as partake in various leisure activities.

Six galleries, hosting both museums and temporary exhibitions, exist alongside restaurants and shops, as well as a theater and a large multi-purpose hall. According to Maki, the SWCAC is a “mini city”, with diverse functions welcoming a wide variety of visitors.

The design of the SWCAC was inspired by its unique urban and geographical context as well as by the fusion of its cultural and commercial program.

海上世界文化中心航拍 张超建筑摄影工作室  20161218 -3
Three Directions

The 3 volumes on the roof open to three directions: city, park, and sea. The result is a building  form symbolizing SWCAC' s role to disseminate culture and information to Shenzhen andbeyond.

2017.09.29 蛇口艺术中心 (2)

Public Park

The building has been designed to integrate with the surrounding park and waterfront, allowing visitors to walk around freely in unbroken loops. Two large staircases on each end give free access to the roof garden, inviting visitors to stroll up to the roof and enjoy views over the sea and surrounding landscape.

2017.09.29 蛇口艺术中心 (141)

Diverse Programming

A central passage links the cultural and commercial program along three main plazas. At the Cultural Plaza, Central Plaza, and Waterfront Plaza, visitors can view, and transfer freely between different floors. Each of the plazas is crowned by one of the volumes on the roof.

Podium + Pavilion

The building is organized by a two-part composition: a podium and a pavilion. The podium consisting of first three floors yield a sculptural form appropriate for the base, while the three aluminum volumes on top creates a light silhouette that marks the overall building as a pavilion in the park.


Ole Bouman丨 Director of Design Society

An architectural giant with an internationally acclaimed practice, Maki’s buildings have touched the lives of people around the world. The SWCAC is Maki and Associates’ fi rst building in China, making it, for many, the first opportunity to experience Maki’s work first hand. Design Society is excited to give visitors this opportunity to understand the careful considerations behind the SWCAC’s design.

We welcome you to enjoy this exhibition, an introduction to the architect’s paradigm and a unique opportunity to experience the ideas behind Maki's projects, the highlight being a feature presentation of the SWCAC itself: a culmination of the lessons learned throughout Maki’s extensive practice, presented and explained through the eyes of the architect himself.

Participant Fumihiko Maki
Hosted by Design Society
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Interview with Fumihiko Maki

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