Chichu Art Museum

This is another art museum built on a site on Naoshima, a small island in the Seto Inland Sea.The building is named Chichu Art Museum, and contains works by three artists: the ImpressionistClaude Monet, and permanent installations by the contemporary artists Walter de Maria andJames Turrell.

The site is located 600m west of the Benesse House Museum, on top of a slightly elevated hillinto which the remains of a stair-shaped saltpan had been carved. Based the potential of theplace and the special program of a “permanent display of spatial art,” I proposed a completely“underground architecture” that further develops the experiment at Benesse House of“architecture that blends into the scenery.”

Excavated along a north-south axis line from the top of the mountain toward the sea, the buildingcomposition takes as its datum two voids, one with a square plan, the other an equilateraltriangle. On the side farthest from the sea is a shape that follows one side of the orthogonal“square court,” pierced by the underground approach tunnel. Reached by the stairs surroundingthe “square court,” the entrance lobby is placed at an angle on an underground level, one storyabove.

From there traversing a crevasse-like outdoor passage open only to the sky, one finally reachesthe “triangular court.” Descending once more underground, led by ramps and steps placed alongthe three sides of the triangle, one arrives at the underground gallery zone entrance. Enclosingtwo sides of the equilateral triangle, the art spaces for the three artists are contained in their owncharacteristic geometric volumes.

The theme of these continuous underground spaces leading to the art spaces is “light.” Alabyrinth of darkness produced by a succession of geometric shapes buried underground—theaim was to produce inflected spaces appropriate to an extraordinary place by means ofgradations in the quantity and feeling of the light flowing in.

The three art spaces emerged from an uncompromising collaboration between the artists and thedirector. The traces of this intense interaction just barely show themselves above the earth as thecontours of this underground architecture.


10 photos and 7 drawings