LocationSakado, Saitama Prefecture, Japan
Design TeamSunil Bald + Yolande Daniels, principals-in-charge; David Huang, project designer; Shai Turner, Brad McCoy, James Khamsi, Jeff Dee
From the architect. Campus | Museum
The 7,000sf Mizuta Museum of Art lines the main pedestrian route near the campus entry of a private Japanese university. The building is...1. a museum to display a valuable collection of Ukiyo-e (Japanese woodcuts) and other art in highly controlled environment and...2. a campus visitor information center to welcome the general public. The compressed site contains seventeen existing trees and a nine meter height limit.
1/2 up | 1/2 down
To give both floors direct access to the pedestrian route, the building is excavated a half level into the site, with one ramp leading up to the museum galleries and another leading down to a campus information center. These ramps are dimensioned for loading as well as public entry. In conjunction with the mechanical space at the east entry and a gallery lounge at the west end, the space of the ramp creates a perimeter environmental buffer that protects the exterior side of the gallery walls from direct sunlight.
Picture of the Floating World
“Ukiyo-e” translates into “Pictures of the Floating World” as the prints were meant to lift the viewer from his/her daily routine. We translated this concept into the cast-in-place galleries cradling art that hovers above the information spaces. Additionally, the graphic method of depicting rain found in many of the prints informed the patterning of the façade. L-shaped pre-cast concrete pieces line the building ramps. The 52 unique pieces, all cast on their sides from a single steel mold, are up to four feet wide, 28 feet along the vertical, up to 11 feet overhead along the horizontal. One-foot wide slots of varying lengths were blocked out along the seam lines, some continuing for the vertical to horizontal section of the piece. This creates light slots that animate and aerate the passages, placing the viewer in the space of the print, within the “floating world.”