1. ArchDaily
  2. Projects
  3. Museum
  4. Japan
  5. Toyo Ito & Associates
  6. 1991
  7. AD Classics: Yatsushiro Municipal Museum / Toyo Ito

AD Classics: Yatsushiro Municipal Museum / Toyo Ito

AD Classics: Yatsushiro Municipal Museum / Toyo Ito
AD Classics: Yatsushiro Municipal Museum / Toyo Ito, © Tomio Ohashi
© Tomio Ohashi

The city of Yatsushiro is known in Japan as a home for exemplary architecture - the legacy at least in part of Artpolis, a plan by the government of the Kumamoto Prefecture to seek out a range of talented architects to design cultural buildings in the cities of the region. Though the Artpolis scheme has been running for the past 22 years, perhaps its most successful building was completed back in 1991, with the construction of Toyo Ito's Yatsushiro Municipal Museum.

© Tuomas Kivinen © Yuki Seto © Yuki Seto © Yuki Seto + 13

© Tuomas Kivinen
© Tuomas Kivinen

The selection of Toyo Ito for this particular project was seen as particularly risky, considering his commitment to contemporary and often technological design, as the site is directly opposite the historic Shohinken Villa and near to the ruins of Yatsushiro Castle. However, Ito did not shy away from his progressive convictions, designing a sleek glass pavilion with a complex, billowing steel canopy.

© Yuki Seto
© Yuki Seto

Though the museum contains two floors, the earth around the building was raised into a mound to give the appearance of a single story structure sat atop a small hill. Above the undulating roof is a horizontal half-cylinder, which provides storage for museum pieces. The logic for this move was that the high water-table on the site would make the common practice of placing storage in a basement too much of a risk.

© Yuki Seto
© Yuki Seto

In his thesis "Architectural Publicity in the Age of Globalization", Ari D Seligmann describes how the Yatsushiro Museum fits into Ito's 'wind series', a collection of buildings - including the Tower of Winds - in the late 80s and 90s where his main themes were "transience and openness". The Museum also develops the structural style which he used in his personal home, the Silver Hut.

© Yuki Seto
© Yuki Seto

Fellow Japanese architect Kengo Kuma praised the museum, saying that it was "not only a critique of the 'heavy and strong' Western model of architecture, but also of these simplistic 'traditional Japanese' buildings, which are far removed from the true spirit of Japanese tradition."

View the complete gallery

About this office
Cite: Rory Stott. "AD Classics: Yatsushiro Municipal Museum / Toyo Ito" 21 Mar 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

You've started following your first account!

Did you know?

You'll now receive updates based on what you follow! Personalize your stream and start following your favorite authors, offices and users.