Page N1.1 . 09 July 2003                     
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    Art Under Glass, Underground

    by ArchitectureWeek

    In the middle of a lush, mountainside forest in Japan is a five-story structure with only a half story above ground. Yet the Pola Museum of Art in Kanagawa prefecture treats visitors to the lower floors with abundant daylight. This is because much of the building, even part of its structure, is made of glass. Designed by Koichi Yasuda, Ken Kannari, and Masao Nishioka of the Tokyo firm Nikken Sekkei Ltd., the building has won the 2003 DuPont Benedictus Award for its innovative application of laminated glass.

    The museum is cross-shaped in plan and sits in a bowl cut out of the mountainside. The architects made a skylight the "light spine of the museum" in their effort to achieve "the symbiosis of the architecture with its surroundings while trying not to spoil the wonderful natural setting."

    The sloped skylight is supported by laminated-glass structural ribs and is strong enough to support the weight of cleaning crews. The unique properties of the material allowed the architects, working in an earthquake-prone region, to meet safety and security codes while mitigating the potentially damaging ultra-violet light in the art galleries below.

    On arrival, visitors are led across a long, narrow approach bridge extending through a thick growth of indigenous forest into the glazed entrance hall. There, they enjoy a view out to the nearby village of Kozukayama and down to the museum through the glass atrium. Santiago Calatrava, one member of the awards jury, said: "Pola demonstrates how laminated glass can be used in architecture extensively and successfully, combined with beautiful detailing."   >>>

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    ArchWeek Image

    Daylight reaches the below-grade art galleries in the Pola Museum of Art in Japan, which won first prize in the DuPont Benedictus Awards for the use of laminated glass.
    Photo: Mamoru Ishiguro

    ArchWeek Image

    Only a half story of the five-story structure extends above ground.
    Photo: Mamoru Ishiguro


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