Tadao Ando designed a gallery to celebrate the Japanese art islands

Surrounded by a slope covered with azaleas in the early spring, Valley Gallery celebrates the first 30 years since the Benesse Art Museum’s opening and aims to make the visitors experience the resonance of nature, architecture and art.

In march 2022 will open on the island of Naoshima, Japan, “Valley Gallery”, designed by Tadao Ando for Benesse Art Site Naoshima, a large-scale art project extending itself on different Japanese islands – Naoshima, Teshima, Inujima, Shodoshima and Megijima. This gallery will be the ninth building developed by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect for the initiative and its inauguration will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Benesse Art Museum, which was the first facility of Benesse Art Site Naoshima, designed also by Tadao Ando.

The Valley Gallery, as its name suggests, is located in a valley surrounded by mountains on three sides. “[…] We decided on a beautiful place surrounded by a slope covered with azaleas in the early spring […],” said Tadao Ando. Based on the image of a shrine, the project features a trapezoid-shaped floor plan topped with an angular roof, which cracks creating a semi-outdoor space. The building has concrete walls and is covered with a 12 mm thick steel roof. “The iron plate has openings made by geometric operations such as shifting and cutting, and the natural breathing such as rain, wind, and light is taken into the inside of the building as it is. I wanted to create a space that is as strong as a crystal, even if it is small”, said the architect.

The development of the project includes also the landscaping of the surrounding outdoor space in order to connect the other museum facilities scattered in nature. Inside and outside the gallery, Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Narcissus Garden’ will be exhibited on a large scale, and Tsuyoshi Ozawa’s “Slag Buddha 88” – created using toxic slag from industrial waste at Teshima island and permanently exhibited since 2006 – will also be partially modified, so visitors can experience more deeply the resonance of nature, architecture, and art.

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