The pavilion designed by Nendo and Ryue Nishizawa (SANAA), in the campus of the Kyoto University, is a spatial experience intended to remind visitors of walking in the mountains under thick tree cover.
Located on a steep hill face covered in luxurious vegetation, from where, on a clear day, you can almost count the 36 crests of the hills that line Kyoto’s eastern edge.
The adjacent area is earmarked for a new grove of Japanese plum trees, and their fragrant early spring blossoms will only add to an already beautiful site. Nishizawa used a single roof to incorporate these elements into the pavilion’s design.
The roof is subtly inclined to follow the angle of the site. Dipping under it, visitors realise that the roof, delightfully and ambiguously, is also a wall. The pavilion’s spatial experience is intended to remind visitors of walking in the mountains under thick tree cover.
To date, many of Nishizawa’s buildings have felt like bright, open and airy fields or gardens, and the furniture inside them like wildflowers that blur the boundary between interior and exterior space while adding brightness and color. But for the shady interior of this wooden structure, clinging onto the hillside exposed to the elements, we thought that furniture like fungi would be much more appropriate.
Nendo’s mushroom-like stools for the space were handmade by artisans to slightly different shapes and sizes, giving a more natural effect. The stools’ layout – clustered at the base of pillars, or in the nooks and crannies by stone walls and staircases – evokes the way that mushrooms grow in the wild, and details like a handrail that transforms into a mushroom continue the metaphor. The aim was to design architectural elements that would “grow” naturally from the space, rather than to put furniture in a room.