LocationToyama, Toyama Prefecture, Japan
Landscape DesignShunsaku Miyagi / PLACEMEDIA
Furniture DesignKazuko Fujie / Fujie Kazuko Aterier
Lighting DesignIwai Tatsuya / Iwai Lumimedia Design
Structural DesignAtsushi Fujio / Fujio and Associates
Text description provided by the architects. The site for this project is situated by the River Matsu that centrally flows through the Toyama prefecture. The scheme seeks to regenerate the area by refurbishing an existing former-residence of prefectural governor and providing an extension for an exhibition block in order to create a literature museum that spreads and raise awareness of Etchu literature which has long been inherited from the Manyo period. Here, we have treated the existing building as a yashiki (Japanese traditional mansion) and the new exhibition extension as a kura (Japanese traditional warehouse) that interlink to each other, with niwa (translates to ‘garden’) that closely relate to the structures completing the configuration of new spatial relationship within the site. The yashiki will hold accommodations for administration, research labs, restaurant and tea rooms, which will provide services for the locals. The kura will act as the ‘museum’ block where exhibition rooms, repository and curator rooms will be located.
The site is designed as a continuous landscape that originates from the River Matsu. The approach route flows through various gardens such as the ‘mizube-no-niwa (garden of water-side)’ and the ‘matsu-kage-no-niwa (garden of pine tree shadow)’ as well as through the exhibition block, penetrating the site from south to north. The existing building (former-residence of prefectural governor) and the new exhibition block open out to the re-arranged 'Manyo Garden', creating quiet and calm environment that belongs to the museum.
Exhibition block / kura and doma (Japanese traditional space with exposed soil floor)
The exhibition block consists of two types of spaces – the kura which are enclosed spaces and the doma which are more open. Kura rooms are ‘warehouse’-like spaces that holds significant exhibition items and collections of the museum, where doma weaves through in between them providing circulation and open shared space for the public to relax and enjoy the spatial quality of the architecture. There are seven kura spaces altogether with specific characters such as exhibition space, repository, curator's rooms, 'unpacking' room and plant room. The volume, the area and the ceiling height, of each kura is governed by its function. The perimeter walls of the kura spaces are all finished with champagne gold anodized aluminium panels. Generally, to use the same finishes materials both internally and externally can become an issue visually due to difference in weathering outcome. The use of anodized panels minimize such effect and enable visitors experience a consistent 'feel' throughout their journeys within and around this architecture. To prevent dirt created by sealing materials, the seams between panels are open-jointed, with water-proofing occurring on the inner side of the panels.
The selection of this material was also inspired by the fact that aluminium is one of the most important industries in Toyama prefecture and casting as a construction method allows for flexible fabrication.
There are leaves associated with Etchu Manyo poems casted into these panels with varying pattern work. The fabricators could randomly slip in the leaves when casting the aluminium, enabling them to produce 1858 (2583㎡ surface area) unique patterns. Also, the anodizing process for these large panels by accident create slightly differing finish colours due to varying temperature and humidity, adding extra dimension of 'uniqueness' to what already are totally original products. We see this outcome as an interface-finish between engineered product and natural material that provides depth and calmness to the architecture.
Visitors are able to freely walk around the doma spaces where a lobby, naturally-lit exhibition space, library and the existing building continuously inter-link. The ceiling height was kept low at 2870mm, emphasizing the horizontal movement and visual connection to the gardens on the west side of the site. Within this low-ceiling zone are vertical voids of 5000mm plus with rooflights that bring in natural daylight, which slips along the kura walls to provide contrast of lightness within the large continuous space.
The floor finishes of doma are stones (Sanseikuro) and the ceiling finishes are timber louvers (Toyama cedar). The stone used for the floor finish is a same material used in the main approach that spans from south to north of the site, treating the doma spaces as part of the landscape. The fire-protected ceiling louvers are directed towards the gardens in the west, emphasizing the progression of internal to external spaces. Lighting and mechanical services such as air conditioning and ventilation devices are hidden behind these louvers, ensuring no fittings are surface fixed to the ceiling.
Gardens and library / cantilever and glazing
The doma space that sits adjacent to the Manyo Garden functions as a library – the use of columns and partitions are minimized. A dynamic cantilever flies above and a large opening that is of 21m frames a horizontal view of the gardens. Mullions are also minimized by using three 3m x 7m pair-glazed panels – the visual exposure to the landscape outside needed to be maximized. This enables visitors to subconsciously wander into the space and relaxingly experience the public zone in various ways.