The Museum of Modern Art, Gunma
1971 - 1974
Site Area: 258,689 sqmBuilding Area: 4,479 sqmTotal Floor Area: 7,976 sqm
Official Web Site
This is a prefectural museum of modern art whose design was begun in 1971 with the opening of the building in 1974. It was the first commission of the several projects for modern and contemporary arts museums that have been designed since the 1970's.
In this project, only one geometric form was applied, that is, the equilateral cubes. Despite its limited capacity as a formula for architectural design, the main concept was to satisfy the requirements by the combination and arrangement of the same element. The cubic frame is also a metaphor of today's museums. Thinking of the contemporary mode of exhibition - works are gathered under a certain theme and exhibited and finally removed - museums are somehow like a port through which the art works are passing. This image generated the concept of "museum as a void", which is implied in the frame and silhouette of the cube. A skeletal frame consisting of 12-meter cubes is referred to as the "basic structure" , while an inserted system for exhibitions, staircases, the sustaining structure of the office area, and certain devices such as the light control system are called the "auxiliary system"; in the overlay of these two systems the museum's numerous functions are accommodated.
While in the 1960's, by organizing in a direct way the functional requirements of the program, architecture was designed as a dynamic organization resembling the implied hierarchy of tree, branch, and reticulation, after the 1970's design developed as an autonomous process of geometric formal manipulation dominated by conceptual issues. In this project the new theme lay in the investigation in of both an abstract geometric language and a concrete architectural language within the building's design.
The cost estimation of the building was limited, adversely affected by the oil-shortage which plagued the world. Therefore the only part of the building whose exterior could be clad in aluminum panels was that side facing onto a park, while the rest was left as exposed concrete. The aluminum panels, as well as the window divisions of the glass panels, are square with sides of 1.2m. Furthermore, over the entire surface, formal operations like the characterization with an architectural order or a discrete change of materials were avoided in order to return to absolute neutrality.