Structural EngineerKonishi Structural Engineers
PhotographsTetsuo Kondo Architects, Ken’ichi Suzuki, Yasuhiro Takagi
From the architect. We created a small bank of clouds in the Sunken Garden of the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. The clouds billow softly in a compact, transparent container and can be seen from the entrance hall, exhibition galleries, outdoor plaza, and other parts of the museum.
Climb the stairs inside the clouds’ container. When you climb beyond the clouds to reach the top, the museum, the surrounding buildings, and the sky stretch out above the clouds. The edges of the clouds are sharp yet soft, and always in motion. Their color, density and brightness are constantly changing in tune with the weather and time of day. The temperature and humidity inside the container are controlled to keep the clouds at their designed height. The air inside the container forms three distinct strata, one cool and dry, at the bottom, a warm and humid middle stratum, and a hot and dry stratum at the top. The warm, humid layer is where the clouds form.
The transparent container is constructed of 48.6 millimeter diameter pipe. The elastic material added to the mid region, at a 6 meter ceiling height, makes the structure as a whole responsive to wind pressure. That elastic material also makes it possible to build the transparent container of nothing but thin pipes. The double layers of vinyl sheets dividing the strata ensure stability of temperature and humidity inside the structure.
The constantly changing clouds are both soft structures and part of the natural environment that surrounds us itself. It is not the structure alone but the invisible differences in humidity and temperature and the weather, the time of day, and other aspects of the surrounding environment, all influencing each other, little by little, that make this work an artistic whole.
Cloudscapes is, in effect, an experiment in creating a new type of architectural space, one that achieves integration in engagement with its environment.