Kengo Kuma - Wooden LEGO - Ikunori Yamamoto 1

Constable: The LEGO Alternative By Architect Kengo Kuma

When you hear the word LEGO, you immediately think of the colourful plastic bricks, which even compete strongly with the new-fashioned Playstation in the children's room at home. For some it is the toy of the century, a cultural asset, for others it is a style-conscious design object. However, it is certain that the LEGO bricks fascinate children, parents and grandparents alike.

It all began during the post-war period in 1947 in the joinery of the Danish Ole Kristiansen. Based on this period, the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma interpreted the coloured plastic bricks in a new way and created a genuine LEGO alternative with “Tsumiki” - translated as building blocks.

V-shaped blocks made of Japanese cedar wood

Kuma has produced the stackable Tsumiki system in cooperation with the nature conservation organisation More Trees. The individual building blocks with a V-shaped notch consist of Japanese cedar wood, which has been processed in sustainable forestry and certified by the (FSC) Forest Stewardship Council.

“I've loved building blocks all my life”, says 61-year-old Kengo Kuma, “and my dream came true. With Tsumiki, I designed a modular system that didn't exist before.”

Complex architectures and shapes without adhesives

The V-shaped Tsumiki blocks are angled cut at the end and allow the connection of individual elements without any glue. In this way, complex architectures and shapes can be created which in their simplest form resemble, for example, a card house made of beer coasters.

On the occasion of this year's Design Week, which took place in Tokyo from 24 October to 3 November 2015, Kengo Kuma & Associates Studio created a whole series of oversized Tsumiki works, much to the delight of many enthusiasts.