Coexistence and competition, with no lessening of the elements
This structure is a permanent display space built as a new facility for the Benesse Art Site Naoshima in time for the Setouchi Triennale 2016. The concept for it was developed by the artist Sputniko! and is about “bringing about a new mythology through art and science.” While a laboratory, it also shares in the spirit of a shrine. The works here can be replaced every three years, calling for a space that, while it engaged with the features of the island and the personality of Sputniko!, was at the same time flexible. We therefore formed a pillarless space whereby all the wooden pillars hang in midair, supported by steel beams, while maintaining the Japanese traditional wooden construction of the roof frame. The exposed steel beams exert a presence no less imposing than that of the roof frame. Making use of the steel frame structure, the facade is deeply recessed, and at the end of the connecting passage that goes through the building is a large framework with hooks from which to hang ema (wooden plaques for writing prayers on). Additionally, a torii (gateway to a Shinto shrine) was placed at the approach to the building in order to emphasize the axis between it and the mountain venerated by Toyotamahime Shrine. What we attempted in this regard was to establish both a sense of coexistence and competition with the various given conditions. We superimposed the many significances and appearances: the old house blending into the scenery, the laboratory symbolizing science, the exhibition space for placing works in, and the shrine-like connection to mythology – taking them all as positives. This strikes a chord, too, with the diversity of meanings apparent in the works of Sputniko!