RR: Do you feel your style of melding nature and urban living was a natural fit for Sydney?
KT: Yeah, I think our product is very Sydney, it’s definitely not New York. Definitely not London. Definitely not Tokyo. But also fits what we want to make Sydney – the greenest [plant-filled] city in the world.
RR: The ‘greening’ of cities by architects and urban planners is imperative as we move forward.
KT: For the next generation of architects, they’re very much part of this and have massive challenges to bring awareness to climate change – though it’s also very a globalised challenge for everyone.
RR: Well before Infinity Tower you were designing restaurants in Sydney’s suburbs – and then you went from, say, Sushi Train Maroubra, to Qatar’s Natural Museum. How much pressure came with such a high-profile role?
KT: Well, it was the best project in the world. And yeah, I did feel extra pressure. I think as an architect when you get a sense of freedom and liberation it turns into confidence, but in this instance, you are against all the greats, like Jean Nouvel, and I thought look who we are against, I’m no one.
RR: You’re quite the sartorial gent – fair to say fashion is a firm creative outlet away from architecture?
KT: Yes, definitely, and I remember seeing Alexander Wang, who I’ve come to admire. You know we went to a grand opening party for Qatar and what I noticed is that I, naively followed the dress code, and these guys just did their own thing. It’s much more interesting than architecture.
RR: Seeing such appealed to the rule-breaker within?
KT: I wish I had figured it out when I was 18 in New York, and I’m not saying break every rule, but growing up in Japan, everything is telling you to confirm. But it’s ok to think outside the box, to push a little bit. But it’s not so much his [Wang’s] work, it’s his spirit I’m inspired by. I know what it’s like being Asian in Manhattan, let’s just call it racist, or political, or whatever, but to be in that position and with that creativity and to prevail – I suddenly looked up to him.