MONOCLE 129: Karl Bengs

MONOCLE 129: Karl Bengs

Trailblazers of regional Japan.
1. KARL BENGS
Meet the Tokamachi-based German architect whose faithful renovations of wooden farmhouses have revitalized rural architecture and regional pride.

Building on tradition

A business trip to Tokamachi in the early 1990s persuaded this German architect to plant roots. Now his faithful renovations of the area’s wooden farmhouses have revitalized rural architecture and regional pride.

For Karl Bengs, reviving kominka (old Japanese farmhouses) is about more than just rebuilding a house: it’s about preserving the history, culture and memories of a place. Bengs, who’s been based in the picturesque mountains of Niigata for three decades, has become an advocate of traditional architecture and retaining the unique character of local areas.