Nagasaki Art Museum
by Botond Bognar
The Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum in Nagasaki, Japan, is one of Kengo Kuma's most successful designs in an urban setting.
In this project, a small canal with flanking pedestrian promenades runs between two interconnected sections of the complex, bringing a part of the nearby sea, the port area, and the public realm of the city into the domain of the museum.
The building opens up to this intimate, in-between urban space, both visually through large glass surfaces on the first floor and physically by means of additional entrances to the museum. These secondary entrances can be approached through shaded arcades, zones defined by the extension of the vertical stone louvers that populate the facades along the canal.
Of City and Sea
This major museum houses a large collection of artwork and artifacts, much of it dating back to an era, during the Edo period (1603-1868), that saw Nagasaki as one of Japan's only points of contact with the outside world.
The project is located on a landfill site on the Port of Nagasaki, and it is bounded on the remaining three edges by busy roads. A canal bisects the museum, and pedestrian promenades hug both banks, putting the water's tidal fluctuations on full display to the public.
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This article is excerpted from Material Immaterial: The New Work of Kengo Kuma by Botond Bognar, copyright © 2009, with permission of the publisher, Princeton Architectural Press.