Osaka Maritime Museum
The project is located inside the dike of Osaka port where hundreds of boats pass each day. Already located on this site are such important buildings as the A.T.C. (Asian Trading Center) , the W.T.C. (World Trading Center) and the Birds Sanctuary. In December 1997, a tunnel for metro and cars linking the city center and this area was inaugurated. The Maritime Museum is part of the final development plans for this zone situated on land reclaimed from the sea. We will be digging about two meters underground in relation to average sea level, to create a 30,000-square-meter pond, that will be part of the Pacific Ocean, and on which we will be building a glass sphere, 40 meters high, designed to look as if it were floating on the water. Construction began in May 1997; it is scheduled to be open to the public in July 2000. The museum is composed of three units:
- the entrance building, 5,000 square meters, located on land - the museum itself, 14,000 square meters, located in the sea - the underwater tunnel, 1,000 square meters, connecting the two buildings The entrance building, with a ground floor and two lower levels, houses the entrance hall, offices, storage space for works and support facilities. There will be a sculpture on the roof that will move gently with the wind and waves. Visitors enter the building and proceed down into a dark space that is designed to call to mind the depths of the sea. Then they go through the 60-meter underwater tunnel to reach the museum.  They take an escalator up to a space right beneath the keel of a full-size reconstruction in wood of an Edo-period boat. This is the ground floor level of the museum. Visitors are then taken up to the top floor (3rd) in transparent elevators that afford a spectacular view of both the boat and the sea. From this floor they can begin their visit of the exhibitions taking the main stairway back down to the ground floor as they proceed. Each level has spaces reserved for permanent and temporary exhibitions. They have disc-shaped flooring and three big cylinders each. On the ground floor there will be two large rooms equipped with virtual reality games. The museum is practically an offshore type of construction that requires special building techniques as compared to those used on land. Below, we will focus mainly on the sphere’s glass structure. One sphere construction techniques is a system known as “the lamella grid”. The sphere is made of flat diamond-shaped sections that get smaller and smaller as they near the top. Their shape and size varies with the height; the angles on the right and left are always the same (90°), but the top and bottom angles are constantly variable. The glass is held together by a “ten point” system. The use of this system on such a scale is extremely rare, not only in Japan, but in the whole world. There is no metal frame between the glass sections, just silicone as a sealant to ensure tightness. This makes the whole sphere look like a crystal. Most of the glass sections consist of two 15-millimeter glass panes with a sheet of perforated galvanized steel in between. The perforation (10 % —> 100 %) varies in density as a function of the path described by the sun, in order to screen out direct sun rays and reduce air-conditioning to a minimum. This “lami metal” also works to create a rich pattern on the outside of the sphere: on sunny days the sphere will mirror the blue sky; in sultry weather, it will merge into the choppy gray sea.


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Building Activity

  • Joana Lazarova
    Joana Lazarova updated a print reference
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