A Walk Through
The approach to Yoshio Taniguchi’s gallery (containing a collection of 8th century Buddhist objects) through the grounds of the Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Park, is subtle. The non-axial approach promenade switches from left to right to finally bridge a large reflecting pool which is foreground to the building.
Moving across the bridge one comprehends a plainly articulated “nested boxes” concept using a light and airy stainless steel and aluminium loggia to envelope a dense stone box where the relics are protected. The loggia, screened with closely-spaced mullions in a clear reference to Japanese precedents, is abridged top and bottom to reveal a background layer of limestone cladding lining the windowless box of the “treasury” behind. Further, the loggia roof doesn’t touch this stone wall but adjoins it using a transitioning skylight that throws light onto the stone in that way underlines the conceptual idea.
Inside the loggia, where the granite under our feet is the same material we’ve just traversed outside but with a differing texture, one sees this layering from the inside and realizes that the mullioned screen has a real physicality: it is glazing to look at as well as look through.
Moving left through this tall entry space one meets up with a principal stair in timber that tells us that we are leaving the ground plane. This stair, slung alongside a massive structural blade wall, holds the eye with well detailed timber treads supported on metal trays. The signs of a small café situated beyond the stair will have to wait for the moment as we ascend to the first floor.
Where there is a small library; recessed into and projecting out of that same blade wall so as to still be part of the loggia itinerary. The library collection seems to be confined to just two topics: The Horyuji Treasures and Yoshio Taniguchi.
Up then to the top level and onto a gallery entry platform that cantilevers out into the entry side of the loggia. Now it is possible to see the whole material palette with its balanced use of wood, stone, glass, metal, ceiling fabric and white hard-set plaster. At this point it is possible to access the gallery and to descend down through it, but, inside, light is controlled carefully and photography is not permitted.
Back then to the ground plane and the café sheltered under the loggia.
Sitting here and looking around, the granite and stainless steel carapace-like loggia wall directs our gaze back to the reflecting pool and beyond to the granite pathway that was a starting point.