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A Sprawling Village. A New Old Story

A sprawling village for the folk art museum of China Academy of Arts was designed by the Japanese architectural bureau Kengo Kuma and Associates. It is a peculiar project that combines innovative technology and traditional aesthetics of old China. A magical, intricate construction that attracts visitors from over the world. 

Японская архитектура

Thousands of curved tiles cover the roof of the art galleries, and the whole site looks like a small Chinese village. 

Photos by Eiichi Kano

The museum of folk art stands in a former tea plantation and is a part of China Academy of Arts campus in Hangzhou, a city on China’s eastern coast.To place the 5000 square meters of the building on the sloping terrain, Kengo Kuma’s bureau fragmented the museum into separate units that gradually step up towards the forested summit of the hill.

Each section of the building looks like a small house with its own pitched roof. The roofs are covered in grey tiles, giving the museum a zigzagging roofline.

Современная японская архитектура
Японская архитектура

This form, along with the use of tiles from local housing, helps the gallery fit into both its rural and urban functions. Planning is based on the geometric division of the units to work with the site’s challenging topography. Each unit has a small individual roof, so the outlook became like a village with extending tiled roofs.

Stainless steel wire goes through the glass facades of the museum, resembling a fishnet. Additional roof tiles are inserted into the diamond-shaped gaps in the mesh and cast shadow patterns on the interior walls and floor. A similar technique was used by Kengo Kuma in the design of the Xinjin Zhi Museum, which has a facade covered in rows of floating tiles.

МОП минимализм
МОП в стиле минимализм

The idea of using old tiles for the screen and the roof came from the exterior of local traditional houses. All of them are different in size, and that helps to create a natural view. The exterior wall is covered with a tile screen hung up by stainless wires – it controls the volume of sunlight coming into the rooms. The building’s form of steps allowed it to create a series of two-story galleries, which are connected by timber- and stone-lined ramps with mesh balustrades.

Фасад в стиле минимализм
Лобби в стиле минимализм

The main idea behind this project was to design a museum that gives you the real feeling of changes in the earth’s landscape by going from one level to another and following the ups and downs of the changing slope.

Японская архитектура

Kengo Kuma and Associates used the same method of integrating the landscape into the project within the Towada nursery in Japan, Paris metro station design, and a tower for Rolex in Dallas. 

Kasugai Architects+  has a long history of cooperation with Japanese architectural studios and has design projects that incorporate the existing landscape:

Shepelyovo Residence

Guest Area in Japanese Style

This unique Japanese approach to architecture is a calling card of our company and has been actively developed in Russia. We offer our clients to create a distinctive design project for private residences, country hotels, private galleries, considering the topography of the site. We also cooperate with Kasugai company, which is an experienced consultant for private collections and galleries.

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