Arata Isozaki’s Gunma Museum of Modern Art: dissolving architecture in the natural context.


Year: 2016

University/Institution/Competition: Moscow Institute of Architecture and Politecnico di Milano

Nature offers many images of emptiness that usually can’t perceive. In Western painting clouds are substantially vision and not allude to anything, stand for themselves, or at most a weather condition and serve to build solid, such as Tiepolo’s paintings; while in China and Japan the clouds are something in between the visible and the invisible. Those are a break in the vision, and serve to stimulate in the viewer an attitude of inquiry, creative. One of the most famous paintings of Japan, the landscape in ink broken (Haboku- Hatsuboku1) painted by Sesshu Toyo (1420-1506) lends itself very well to this kind of analysis because the fog and clouds are empty vehicle.

Sesshu Toyo, Haboku Sansui, 1495.

Sesshu Toyo, Haboku Sansui, 1495.

But the vacuum effect is designed to undo or upset the sense of distance, so as to induce read more clearly the first floor, while the fog get the observer be prospectively affected not so significant. So the vacuum effect allows you to place emotionally the importance of the objects depicted in the space, creating a hierarchy of relationships different from that to which we are accustomed to in the West, and that is architecturally based on progressions conceptual, rational; not here, it is more sentimental.2

Figure 2. Personal Sketch up representation of A. Isozaki’s Gunma Museum.

Personal Sketch up representation of A. Isozaki’s Gunma Museum.

Gunma Museum of Isozaki plays a role of blank white sheet in a natural context, surrounded by forest that instead express itself fully. Located within a park, for its reflective surface and chromatically homogeneous skin, it is visible around the green as a cancellation and subtraction of this.

As also visible in Sou Fujimoto3’s sketches, architects of the next generation, architecture in Japan is never in the first plan in its context. Building, since traditional architecture, should be at first compatible with nature, which is the real protagonist in landscape. They are visible surround by greenery as a cancellation and subtraction of this, as the role of clouds in “Tale of Gaiji”.

Architecture lies fragilely on the ground, adopting a basic aspect and shapes (bare of any ornaments), so it can be the background of nature. The Gunma Museum has a potential space that would not be so sensitive and deep except that the building allows nature in the first place to show itself.

Sou Fujimoto’ digital sketch of for house in Tokyo.

Sou Fujimoto’ digital sketch of for house in Tokyo.

1 Haboku (破墨) and Hatsuboku (溌墨) are both a technique employed in ink wash painting, as seen in landscape paintings, involving an abstract simplification of forms and freedom of brushwork. The two terms are often confused with each other in ordinary use. Generally, haboku relies on a layered contrast black, gray and white, whereas hatsuboku utilizes “splashes” of ink, without leaving clear contours or outlines. In Japan, these styles of painting were firmly founded and spread by the Japanese painter Sesshu Toyo.

2 Gian Carlo Calza, Stile Giapponese,( Torino: Einaudi, 2002) p. 29.

3 Sou Fujimoto (1971) is a Japanese architect graduated from the University of Tokyo in 1994, and established his own office, Sou Fujimoto Architects, in 2000. Noted for delicate light structures and permeable enclosures, Fujimoto designed several houses, and in 2013, was selected to design the temporary Serpentine Gallery pavilion in London.

Clouds in Tale of Genji’s scroll, 1600.

Clouds in Tale of Genji’s scroll, 1600.

Nationality: Italian


City and date of birth: Turin 1990


Author: Marta Martinoglio