Kengo Kuma’s new Folk Art Museum draws on Hangzhou’s local vernacular
Located in the outskirts of Hangzhou, China’s alluring green landscape of rolling hills and peaceful lakes, the dark, subtle, angular shapes of the striking new Folk Art Museum building are the latest addition to the China Academy of Arts grounds, courtesy of Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.
Situated within the renowned school’s campus, the project is set to carve meaningful relationships between visitors, displays and their environment. Its low, distinct outline is nestled into the sloped site - formerly a tea field - and resembles a group of gently angled pitched roofs. The arrangement cascades downwards, referencing through its geometry and composition local vernacular and construction techniques.
Indeed, a sense of place and the site were important to this project; the architect was keen to ’design a museum from which the ground below can be felt’, keeping the buildings low - they don’t exceed two storeys in height. The cascading roof system allows the building to cleverly mitigate the site’s irregularities, at the same time creating the appearance of a ’village’, explain the architects.
Kuma also worked with rich, local materials, such as cedar and reclaimed roof tiles used to cover old homes in the region, drawing even more parallels between his work and the area’s traditional architecture. A stainless wire mesh on the facade, both holds the tiles - which vary in size - together and creates a pleasant screen for the building, which filters light and shadow, and controls views.
The complex’s generous museum display areas are complemented by state-of-the-art conference facilities, making the project’s total surface reaching almost 5,000 sq m.
Photography: Eiichi Kano