Friday, 13 July 2007

Ando Hiroshige Museum - Kengo Kuma

The images show Japanese architect Kengo Kuma's museum for Ando Hiroshige, the master of Japanese woodblock prints whose images have featured from time to time here at Not PC.

Kuma claims to be following Hiroshige's aesthetic, which he boiled down to state baldly that he "noticed how the artist used thin lines to portray the rain [in the print to the left] and carried this technique over into his design."

I must confess, hearing about the museum attracted me to exploring more about it, but beyond these few images I've found relatively little of the museum on the 'net, and the images I've found don't depict the building very clearly. I'm not clear, for example, just where the prints themselves get to be displayed...

Anyway, enjoy the prints. I'm sure the weather at least will be familiar.


  1. Kuma never 'stated baldly' that his design boiled down to using thin lines that looked like the rain in that print. Whoever wrote the piece on the building on the website you sourced did. They also went on to say... "It is evident that Kuma uses the structure and lattice as an architectural expression of Hiroshige's depiction of the changing elements of nature."

    Slightly more nuanced and in-depth approach than your somewhat scornful summary intimates...

    I stumped up the cash to go along to the Kengo Kuma lecture (as part of the CtrlShift conference, which I didn't go to) the other week and found him and his approach to architecture fascinating - if you are interested in his work, you should definitely drill a bit deeper into his oeuvre - he has some simply awe-inspiring work.


  2. Den, that was fairly poorly expressed, I grant you. It probably came out more dismissively than I intended, but I was enchanted when I read of Kuma's approach to a musuem for an artist I enjoy, and sorely disappointed when I found the few images I could.

    I will keep an eye out for more.

  3. Fair enough. I'm convinced that when an architect creates a building to house the work of an artist of any stripe, their job has to be more than to simply emulate their style.

    A very simple reading of the Hiroshige building is that Kuma has done just that - evoke the thin linear patterning that Hiroshige uses to suggest rain. But his overall goal (and it is hard to pick from the photos you have, I concede - I found some more at lunch which I'll email) is to bring the nature which Hiroshige almost venerated IN to the building. He talked a bunch at his lecture about 'making architecture disappear' such that buildings have a real connection with the landscape. Using the layers of his timber lattice, the striking views from the natural surrounding are woven into the building in a semi-transparent way.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that you won't approve of his approach (Nature worship!) but the beauty of the building and it's masterful integration with the landscape can't be ignored...



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