An acronym for Universal Innovative Design, UID is an unlikely title for a firm founded by a non-English speaker and located in Fukuyama, a regional city in the hinterlands of Hiroshima Prefecture. Yet there is a clean elegance to its moniker, just as with the architecture of studio founder Keisuke Maeda. “Lots of people name their firms after themselves,” he explains. “But it takes a whole team to bring forth inventive architecture.” Though still a youngster in professional terms, this emerging architect, who is 40, has enough experience to know what he’s talking about.
Maeda has a design staff of four architects, with an office inside MORI x Hako, a commercial building that the firm completed in 2009. Originally the space was earmarked for a small school, but when that arrangement fell through, the owner offered it to UID. Essentially one room spread out over a series of mini-levels, the studio reads as a manifesto of Maeda’s design ethos. His work, though contemporary, is rooted in historic Japanese architecture and its integration with the landscape.