Friday, April 1, 2011

Nezu Museum : By Kengo Kuma & Associates

Tokyo, Japan 
Kengo Kuma & Associates
Post By:Kitticoon Poopong
Photo © Courtesy of Shinkenchiku-Sha--Kuma placed the main entrance at the south end of the building, which visitors reach after walking along a 148-foot-long path.
Updating Tradition: For a previously overlooked museum, Kengo Kuma creates a new home that connects to its garden setting and the big city beyond.
With a new name, a new logo, and a new building, the Nezu Museum has transformed itself from a staid cultural institution into Tokyo’s latest “it” destination. Despite a world-class collection of Asian antiquities and a central location in the city’s fashionable Omotesando district, the old museum (the Nezu Institute of Fine Arts) and its traditional garden kept a fairly low profile. But thanks to the new building and landscape design by Kengo Kuma, the Nezu is impossible to miss. Topped with a dramatic tile roof, Kuma’s building stands apart from its commercial surroundings. Yet it greets pedestrians warmly with a live bamboo wall symbolizing the elegant blend of architecture and nature inside. 

Photo © Courtesy of Shinkenchiku-Sha--A pitched roof with ceramic tiles connects the building to Japanese tradition, but tapered, steel eaves give a modern edge to the design.
One unique aspect of Japanese culture is the deep connection between buildings and gardens,” says Kuma. “I want to go back to that tradition.” This approach marked a departure from the Nezu’s previous home. Adjacent yet closed off from its carefully tended grounds, the privately owned museum encompassed a concrete exhibition hall plus four plaster-covered storehouses. The original concrete building opened in 1955 (with additions in 1964 and 1990), but the storage structures and garden date to the era before World War II when the Nezu family estate occupied the property. When roof leaks and poor climate control threatened the priceless artworks in the storehouses, the museum decided to replace them with a new exhibition structure and convert the old museum into offices and a state-of–the-art archive for the 7,000-piece collection.
Photo © Courtesy of Shinkenchiku-Sha--Broad eaves shade the glazed elevation looking onto the garden and create a transitional zone between indoors and out. The existing building (background in photo) runs perpendicular to the new building.
Removing the storehouses enabled Kuma to reposition the museum’s entrance more prominently—to the end of Omotesando’s famous, boutique-lined street (instead of a sequestered approach from Kotto Dori). A 148-foot-long walkway leads to the building’s main door, in the process taking visitors away from the buzz of the city. Inside, an intimate reception area adjoins an expansive sculpture hall overlooking the 161,459-square-foot garden. From the hall, visitors can either go outside or enter the six galleries: three on the ground floor and three (plus a lounge) on the second floor—all accessed by a glass- and-steel stair in the middle of the room. While a café occupies its own Kuma-designed garden pavilion, a shop sits near the museum entrance. 
Photo © Courtesy of Shinkenchiku-Sha--Kuma designed the landscaping around the museum as a dialogue between old and new and connected it with the building’s interiors, including the sculpture hall on the ground floor.
A second stair descends below grade to a 70-seat lecture room, and a hidden corridor behind the galleries connects to the old wing.
Though the new Nezu has more gallery space, its administrators’ primary goal was to improve the quality of the exhibition area—in terms of both conservation and display. Because of their fragility, most of the artifacts make only brief appearances in the galleries, each one designated for a different medium, such as decorative arts, tea ceremony objects, or calligraphy. Sequestered behind solid, steel-reinforced-concrete walls, the galleries are lined with built-in storage and cloth-padded cases where humidity and lighting conditions can be closely monitored. While the rooms are intentionally spare and subdued, the cases are equipped with LED and halogen fixtures that spotlight individual treasures without exposing them to harmful heat.
Photo © Courtesy of Shinkenchiku-Sha--A glass-and-steel stair leads from the spacious sculpture gallery on the ground floor to three galleries and a lounge on the second floor. Visitors can also explore a gift shop on the main level or take a different stair down one flight to a 70-seat lecture room.
Because earthquakes are a major concern in Japan, stone figures in the sculpture hall stand on pedestals concealing metal springs that absorb seismic tremors. Though the objects are not light sensitive, Kuma carefully coordinated daylight and electrical fixtures to best present the pieces against the backdrop of the newly configured garden. Fanning out from the building, the garden presents a spacious, tree-ringed lawn cut by a path leading to the café. From here, walkways connect to the existing grounds laid out by the Nezu family’s master gardener. Uniting inside and out, a glass wall fronts the sculpture hall. While glass fins securing the wall minimize view-blocking window sashes, oblong, solid-steel columns measuring 4-by-12 inches seem to effortlessly support ceiling beams that enable the room’s 49-foot clear span. Soaring to 49 feet at its apex, the angled ceiling echoes the building’s pitched roof. 
Photo © Courtesy of Shinkenchiku-Sha--The architect used bamboo and wood salvaged from the old Nezu storehouses for the benches in a second floor lounge. The light-filled lounge contrasts with the darker galleries, which need to protect artworks from daylight.
The museum’s most distinctive feature—its roof—is a direct quotation from Japanese history but rendered more abstractly, befitting a contemporary museum in an urban setting. While its traditional image ties the museum’s contents and container together, the pitched form, says Kuma, distinguishes the Nezu from the unpopular, boxlike public buildings around the country that do not blend with the Japanese environment. “A pitched roof harmonizes the ground and architecture,” he explains. Charcoal-colored ceramic tiles clad the entire roof surface, and their uniform texture accentuates the angled planes. Instead of ending with the typical, decorative flourish at the ridge or gutter, the matte surfaces terminate in tapered, sharp-edged eaves made of 0.13-inch-thick sheets of industrial grade steel—the same material covering the museum’s exterior walls.
Photo © Courtesy of Shinkenchiku-Sha--A new café building designed by Kuma sits between the new building and the existing museum (now used for offices and archives). The free-standing café pavilion surrounds diners with views of the garden and dappled daylight filtered by translucent portions of the roof.
Supported by 9-foot-long, cantilevered beams, the eaves shield the front walkway but submerge it in semidarkness. “People usually expect lighter spaces in public buildings,” comments Kuma. “But this darkness is necessary to separate [the museum] from Omotesando.” Black sandstone pavers compound this shadowy effect, while bamboo walls mitigate it. (Two rows of live bamboo plants buffer the building from the street, and split stalks adorn the facade, forging connections with both the garden and the interior.) 
Photo © Courtesy of Shinkenchiku-Sha--The new building brings the museum closer to the street and gives it a higher public profile, while protecting the garden beyond.
Inside the museum, Kuma used many of the same materials, including sandstone flooring and, especially, bamboo. Complementing the delicate tea utensils on display, exquisitely detailed bamboo panels cover walls and ceilings. In addition, the architect crafted versatile, L-shaped benches from both bamboo and wood salvaged from the old museum’s storehouses.
first floor plan--drawing Courtesy of Kengo Kuma & Associates
Today, those benches are one of the few reminders of the collection’s original home— a tranquil place where railway magnate Nezu Kaichiro I, the museum’s founder, first assembled and began sharing his treasures with the public. Drawing a wide audience that spans all ages and nationalities, the Nezu Museum now connects to its founder’s dream of honoring Japan’s artworks and brings the institution into the 21st century. Kuma’s design serves as a physical and metaphorical hinge linking old and new, inside and out, high-tech and traditional. And it does so in such a graceful way that it seems almost inevitable. 
second floor plan--drawing Courtesy of Kengo Kuma & Associates

The People

Kengo Kuma & Associates
2-24-8 Minamiaoyama
107-0062 Tokyo, Japan
TEL: 81-3-3401-7721
FAX: 81-3-3401-7778
Kengo Kuma REGISTERED, Minoru Yokoo, Toshio Yada REGISTERED, Takumi Saikawa, Atsushi Kawanishi REGISTERED, Ryohei Tanaka, Ayumi Motose

Shimizu Corporation

General Planning:
Panasonic Electric Works Co., Ltd.
Lighting for Exhibition
Kilt Planning Office INC
Other: Showcase Designing / Kokuyo Furniture Co., Ltd.

General contractor:
Shimizu Corporation

Mitsumasa Fujitsuka
phone number 03-5410-9220

CAD system, project management, or other software used:
Auto cad

The Products

Structural system:
Steel structure /steel-reinforced concrete structure

Exterior cladding
Metal/glass curtainwall:
Techno Namiken Co. Ltd./ steel panelt3.2 hot dipgalvanizing phosphate finish

Tile/shingles: Marueitogyo Co. Ltd./Japanese clay tile
Other: eaves:steel panelt3.2 hot dip galvanizing phosphate finish

Asahi Glass Co./laminated tempered glass / laminated heat resistance glass

laminated tempered glass

Interior finishes
bamboo sliced veneer
bamboo sliced veneer / sand stone t30
sand stone t30 / cork flooring t4.0

Interior ambient lighting: halogen lamp / fluorescent lamp
Task lighting:
halogen lamp
halogen lamp
Exhibition lighting :
halogen lamp(fiber optic)/ LED lighting
Exhibition lighting Controls:
Lutron light control system
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