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Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa designed the 21ST CENTURY MUSEUM in Kanazawa. De: Pollock, Naomi R., Architectural Record, 0003858X, Feb2005, Vol. 193, Fascículo 2
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Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa designed the 21ST CENTURY MUSEUM in Kanazawa
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as a icon ofsee-through Modernism
From Fort Worth to Manhattan to Paris, Japanese architects are building major museums everywhere. But residents of Kanazawa, a regional city northwest of Tokyo, don't have to leave town to visit one of the most talked-about new museums by a Japanese firm, the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, which opened in October 2004. Designed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa ofSANAA, the building consists of a cluster of abstract white boxes rising from an enormous glass circle. A remarkable balance of platonic formalism and inviting flexibility, the 375-foot-wide structure provides a bold Modern landmark for a city on the Sea of Japan known for its traditional crafts and textiles. With 300,000 square feet of space, it is a major institution, but its low scale andtransparent wrapping welcome visitors inside. In its program and its architecture, this building challenges conventions. It not only combines art museum with community center, but its unique internal organization has the quality of Japanese urban space, though on an interior scale.
In the past, Japan had a habit of building imposing Western-style museums and placing them in isolated parks or on hilltopsites. But the city of Kanazawa, the client for the 21st Century Museum, located the project near the center of town on the grounds of a former girls school. Bounded by streets and a historic moat, the single-story building is surrounded by a green lawn from which its inner workings are visible and accessible from multiple directions. Though the boxes poking through its flat roof add a touch ofgrandeur, the building is anything but a monument, and has neither a prominent facade nor a primary entrance.
Instead, there are five ways in: four at grade and one from the basement parking. All lead to the museum's "free zone" ringing the building's perimeter. Intended to lure local residents, not just art aficionados, the free zone holds the restaurant, museum shop, art library, child-carecenter, lecture hall, and "people's gallery" available to the general public for a nominal fee. Hoisted by a giant piston, a freestanding glass elevator in one of the entry foyers connects the main floor to the theater and an additional rental gallery one floor below. Accessed from ticket counters on the building's east side, the "pay zone" fills the building core and contains display space fortraveling exhibitions as well as the museum's permanent collection of post-1980 contemporary art. Clear partitions, glazed courtyards, and an array of potted plants physically separate the two zones but maintain visual connections.
A dramatic departure from the typical Japanese museum where art is displayed in a few large halls, the pay zone consists of 14 individual galleries embedded in a field ofcirculation space. "Basically, the curator decided the proportions of the rooms and we figured out how to connect them," explains Sejima.
Rarely, though, has circulation space presented such an intriguing and complex character. While corridors cross at right angles, they are not laid out in a grid. Although consistent in height, they vary in width. And while some are localized within the pay zone,others extend from one side of the building to the other, preserving unimpeded views. In addition, curators can change circulation patterns by opening or closing acrylic panels in some of the hallways.
The architects also built flexibility into the display of art, allowing curators to show works almost anywhere in the building. They can even hang art in the corridors. Galleries — which run the...
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