Architects: Andrew Burns Architect
Location: Urada, Niigata Prefecture, Japan
Local Architects: Souhei Imamura, Sotaro Yamamoto
Competition Team: Andrew Burns, Casey Bryant
Project Year: 2012
Project Area: 120.0 sqm
Photographs: Brett Boardman, Courtesy of Andrew Burns Architect
The project was initiated following the collapse of the original Australia House (a 100 year old Japanese farmhouse). It is essentially a disaster recovery project, but of a cultural type. The structure has been overdesigned so it can function as a refuge during future disasters.
Less than one year from announcement of competition to completion of construction. This required fantastic groundwork from the Australian Embassy, Tokyo, and rapid construction by the local contractors, Iizuka Constructions and Onojeima Constructions.
Simple clear geometry that creates possibilities, rather shutting them down through excessive architectural authorship…
The main gallery focusses on the embankment, rather than the dramatic valley view. In this way the embankment, tilted up, becomes the third wall of the gallery, creating opportunities for artists and curators to engage with landscape.
By focussing on an ordinary view, rather than an extraordinary view, it seeks to remind us of the value of ordinary, local things, post GFC and post great east Japan Earthquake.
Unique collaboration between artist and architect to embed a permanent work within the gallery. The work can be concealed by a large cedar clad panel. It is my hope that a new permanent work will be embedded in the gallery space at each triennale, so in 15 years time you could walk into the space and reveal 6 compelling permanent works.
The design resonates with the many utilitarian structures in the region, a steep roof, direct expression and located close to the road so as to be easy to access during snowfall. I did not so much as reference these buildings when I was designing it, but followed the same basic logic that they follow.
The steeply pitched roof form rises to the daikoku-bashira (king post), creating a tall gallery space within a compact volume.
Despite it’s size (120 sqm) this building conveys an institutional quality, although it also has the ambiguous presence of a rural structure and an art object.