Does Location Really Matter?


KJ: How did you end up working abroad?

YK: After being involved in research team held by Hiroshi Maruyama at Shibaura Institute of Technology, I was employed by ASA as a graduate engineer and gained knowledge of the structural engineering basics. For 5 years at ASA, I got involved in designing various scales of structures and was able to experience distinct structural designs. In 2012, in order to gain more experiences overseas, I then moved to France and worked at a German structural engineering firm, Bollinger + Grohmann. I’ve worked on structural design and analysis of projects like Ecole Centrale Paris by OMA, Taichung Central Park by Philippe Rahm and Catherine Mosbach and La sale de sport de Calais by bureau face B. I also got to work with a Japanese architect, Tsuyoshi Tane and proposed a design for New National Stadium of 2020 Olymics competition.

From my experience, the basic concept of structural engineering can be applied anywhere in the world. Even though the language is different, shear force/bending moment diagrams, structural analysis and structural details can all be deciphered through any drawings. Therefore, I believe location does not matter when working as a structural engineer.


In Japan, students aiming to become architects, structural engineers and contractors would all study at the same architecture department at university. Thus, when it comes to working in the industry, having the same background knowledge would be important since the conversation can be sophisticatedly technical yet poetic and could end up with refined design. In contrast, architects and structural engineers are educated separately in Europe. Architects become the artist and the structural engineers on the other hand are the technicians. Therefore, it can be said that there is a large gap between architects and structural engineers, however, this collaboration could lead to unexpectedly creative design. Both Japanese and European education approaches are distinct yet interesting therefore I’m enjoying working with both Japanese and European architects/engineers.​

KJ: How is it like working with foreign countries and local engineers?

YK: I’ve worked on projects in several countries such as France, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, United Kingdom, South America and working with the local engineers would be essential each time. Local engineers would help out checking whether the structural design is sufficient as per the national standards and they would also be in contact with the local contractor and instruct the structural details on behalf of myself in their languages.


One philosophy I have when working outside Japan is to contact local engineers at the initial stage of the projects and to study the local standards. Each standard is somewhat similar to other, however, small variance in the forces external to the building or in the coefficients used for the loading would alternate the structural design unconditionally.


Another approach is to understand the local materials. For instance, in France, there is only few specialist subcontractors, therefore, building wooden structures are extremely expensive. Precast concrete is often used and for in-situ concrete, metal frames are used instead of constructing timber shutter. Therefore, the design and construction method would be incompatible from any other countries. National standards, construction techniques and available materials in the country, all of these factors limit the design, however, it also is one of the elements that characterize the project. These limitations are good references when facing similar situation in projects elsewhere.

KJ: How do you manage all of your projects while living in Hong Kong?

YK: Unlike the architects, I’m able to work from distance as a structural engineer. Engineers would have fewer meetings with the client on site compared to the architects and contact can be taken via e-mail, Skype and phone call with the architects. Site visits would be made only few times during construction unlike the architects, so we can be flexible about where we work. Clients and architects would have to be on top of budget, construction phase plan and quality, however, being physically distant from the project location as a structural engineer, these factors would have less influence on the design and could objectively think about the project for improvements.


At the moment, my office is based in Hong Kong, however, my main focus is not the projects in Hong Kong. For instance, 70% of the projects are based in Japan and I moved to Hong Kong from France because Japan is just 5 hours of plane ride away and comparing to Europe, architecture is rapidly evolving in Asia. It has been my second year in Hong Kong, however, my aim is to work without boundaries as a structural engineer.

KJ: Could you tell us about your projects in detail?

YK: As mentioned previously, 70% of the projects are running in Japan and others in overseas. Within all of the projects, the ratio would be 60% for new-built properties, 30% for refurbishment projects and 10% for commercial buildings such as museums and offices.


In Hong Kong, it is a rare case where you see young architects designing new-built properties. Project designs I was involved in Hong Kong are for pavilion, spiral staircases and swings by young architects, LAAB Architects.


When working with foreign architects, I try to adapt the work style we have in Japan and not let them categorize myself just as ‘structural technician’. Instead of giving structural instruction to the finalized design, we both initially discuss about the architectural design, concept and structural design. Just like working in Japan, I try to be involved in the project from start to end.


Talking about structural service fee, structural design, structural analysis and engineering documentations are included and adjusted to finalize the fee. In Japan, it usually is some percentage of project fee, so it depends on the sizes of the projects, however, it entirely depends on the commissions thus the work style is highly motivating for me.

KJ: How is it to work with foreign architects?

YK: Architects I get to work with are very open-minded people so that meetings would be more of us giving both architectural and structural ideas thus we get rid of both of our professional boundaries to share ideas. Also, it is satisfying when completing projects based in different countries where standards, building techniques and materials are completely different.


One of the struggle I would say is the language. When I first moved to France, I barely spoke English, however, I went out for drinks with my colleagues back then and avoided speaking in Japanese to improve my French. I didn’t make any Japanese friends in the first 6 months but at the end of the day I got used to speaking in English and French. After moving to Hong Kong, it was less of a hassle since most people understand English here.

After getting used to the language, structuring sentences became so much easier and now I’m able to carefully select words depending on the situations. Meetings with the architects aren’t just to do with drawings and models so I believe keeping up with the language plays an important role when it comes to working with foreign architects/designers.

Yasuhiro Kaneda / YKS Director


雑誌 : 建築ジャーナル



芝浦工業大学の建築工学科にて、建築家の丸山洋志氏の研究室で建築を学びました。その後、鈴木啓氏が主宰するASAに入社し、5年間さまざまな構造形式と規模のものを経験させていただき、構造設計の基礎を学びました。さらに大きなプロジェクトと海外経験を求め、Bollinger +Grohmannというドイツに本社がある構造エンジニア事務所のパリ支社に2012年から2年間勤務しました。そこでは、OMAの「Ecole Centrale Paris (大学キャンパス) 」、Philippe RahmとCatherine Mosbachによる「台中公園」や、フランスの若手建築家bureau face Bの「La salle de sport de Calais (体育館) 」、田根剛氏との「新国立競技場コンペ案」の構造システムの提案と解析を担当しました。







理由のひとつは、確認申請の手続き、その場所の法規 (外力[ある物体、材料や構造などに外から加えられる力]の設定)・条例の確認のためであり、もうひとつは、こちらの指示や構造的な意図を説明する上で、現地の言語で建設会社との間を取り持ってもらうためです。


できるだけ、プロジェクトの初期段階で、建築家の紹介によりローカルエンジニアとコンタクトするか、その国の構造法規 (英語版) をもらい、読み込むようにしています。法規を知ることは、その国の建築の制約を学ぶことで、外力の設定が、そこの建築の構造形式に大きく影響を与えます。また、材料の流通についても、建築家、ローカルエンジニア、建設会社に、よくヒアリングするようにしています。例えば、フランスでは、大工というものが存在しないので、木工事が非常に高価です。コンクリート工事はプレキャストがメインで、現場打ちを最小限にし、現場打ちが必要な場合は、木製の型枠ではなく、鋼製型枠になります。それにより、同じRCでも設計の仕方、施工方法が全く違ってくるのです。法規と施工技術、資材の流通は、その場所に建つ建築の在り方に大きくかかわる制約であると同時に、そこでしかできないもの、特異性を見出す鍵でもあると思っています。さまざまな国で同時に設計を行うことで、今どこでどのようなことが起こっているのかをリアルタイムで知ることができ、それぞれのプロジェクトに対して有効にアウトプットできるようにしています。


このような (さまざまな国のプロジェクトを同時に設計する) スタンスがとれるのは、建築家と違い、構造設計者はプロジェクトの場所に依存する必要がないという事が前提にあります。クライアントと定期的に会って打ち合わせをする必要もありませんし、建築家とは時々会って打ち合わせする以外は、メールベースで連絡を取り合い、スカイプや電話で打ち合わせはできます。現場監理も、小規模のものであれば、数回現場に行く程度で、建築家のように、終盤で毎週行く必要もありません。われわれの立場は、建築に対して距離をとることができる、これは、物理的な意味でもそうですが、プロジェクトそのものに対しても客観的な視点をもちながら接することができると認識しています。クライアントと建築家は、予算や工期、プランニングなど、総合的にさまざまなことを考え、処理していく必要がありますが、その中で、見落とされようとしている建築の在り方や、モノのあり方などを客観的に捉えて、建築家と議論するような姿勢を常にもつようにしています。




香港の中だけでいうと、若い建築家が新築のプロジェクトを設計するということはほぼない環境です。現在、パビリオン、遊具、インテリアデザイン (螺旋階段や大きいシャンデリア、大きな彫刻) の構造設計をしていますが、現在動いているプロジェクトのほとんどは、香港以外です。

海外プロジェクトは、今動いているプロジェクトの3割程度で、7割が日本国内という形です。そのうち、新築住宅60%、改修30%、そのほか (美術館、オフィスなど) 10%という感じです。




設計料は、設計とアイディアの提供、スタディ (計算、解析) に掛かる時間、計算書作成費、現場監理など、それぞれについて、細かい内訳を提示します。ローカルエンジニアの必要有無などによっても変わってきますが、できるけ、日本国内のプロジェクトと同様に、プロジェクト初期から、現場監理までかかわるようにしています。






生活面で大変だったのはやはり言葉です。フランスで生活し始めたときには、英語も全く話せない状態でした。とにかく、当時の会社 (Bollinger+Grohmann) の同僚を仕事終わりに飲みに誘い、週末は家に遊びに行くようにして、とにかく日本語を話さない生活を心がけていました。最初の半年は、日本人の友だちは一人もいない状態でしたが、おかげで英語とフランス語に慣れることができました。





金田泰裕 / YKS Director