THE NATIONAL ARTS CENTER
AN ‘EMPTY MUSEUM’
National Arts Center, Tokyo (NACT) is designed by Kisho Kurokawa architect & associates in collaboration with Nihon Sekkei, Inc. The building is made up of seven enormous column-less display rooms (each 2,000 m²), a library, an auditorium, a restaurant, a café and a museum shop. The floor area totals 45,000 m², making it Japan’s largest museum.
NACT is what some call ‘an empty museum’. It has no permanent collection or lead curator. Instead, the it hosts an every-changing array of temporary exhibitions sponsored and curated by outside organisations. Its design must serve an identity that is completely fluid. It must host and represent unforeseeable collaborators and creative expressions.
To this functionality, NACT is essentially a gigantic display machine designed to rival the mechanical display space is the atrium facade, an enormous transparent undulation. As the trees surrounding the museum grow, they enclose the atrium in a forested public space. A restaurant and café are also in the atrium space, housed within the upper portions of two large, inverted cone structures. The atrium connects with the street of Roppongi’s downtown area, linking the museum to surrounding activity and nightlife.
The largest exhibit in Japan, the Nitten Exhibition, displayed a collection of over 12,000 works taking up an area of 10,000 m² or more than 5 display ‘blocks’ in 2007. The jurying process began in the basement, where works were brought in one-by-one at the loading area and only the pieces selected were brought by service elevator to the display blocks. Medium and smaller exhibits were held in one ‘block’ and judged, separated, held and displayed as they were unloaded from trucks in the basement in a functional rhythm. One display ‘block’ was sometimes divided by partitions, creating smaller spaces.
In Spring/Summer 2007, NACT held a Monet exhibition that was the second-most visited exhibition of the year globally.
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Project completed: 2006
Architects: Kisho Kurokawa architect & associates + Nihon Sekkei, Inc.
Areas: Restaurant, café, library, education area, exhibition spaces
Products: 3107™, PK80™, Ant™, ICE™ & Table Series