Australia House is a gallery, studio and atelier in the ‘snow country’ of Niigata Prefecture, approximately three hours north of Tokyo. The building replaces a previous structure which collapsed in a powerful aftershock on March 12, 2011.
The Australian Embassy Tokyo, Tokamachi City Government and the Echigo-Tsumari Triennale resolved quickly to construct a new building and it stands as a symbol of healing and transformation in this beautiful area of Japan.
During winter, the site can experience 1.5m of snow during one day, and this was a key consideration in the design, with the roof pitching steeply. The building alternates between a familiar domestic presence and that of an art object.
The interiors form a large ‘perception device’, heightening views of the surrounding landscape and creating opportunities for art installation. The artist Brook Andrew is exhibiting his work ‘Mountain Home – dhirrayn ngurang’ in Australia House during the 5th Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, and the unique collaboration between architect and artist has refined the building, suggesting new ways for a permanent collection to be embedded within a gallery.
The proposal received first place from a field of 154 entries in an international design competition chaired by Tadao Ando. Of the design, Ando commented:
‘It is difficult to form a triangle. However, it could create interesting architecture since it is difficult. I find the approach to the house attractive and different elements well arranged.
The idea of dealing with snow is thoughtful, considering that the site is located in a heavy snowfall region. It would be fantastic if only the triangular roof was visible as the rest of the house is covered with three-metre-high snow.’
The project has been supported by the Tokamachi City Government, the Australia-Japan Foundation, International Culture Appreciation and Interchange Society, Inc., the Australian Embassy Tokyo and local residents. It will serve as one of the main attractions of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale 2012.
Location: Niigata Prefecture, Japan
Architects: Andrew BurnsArchitect, assisted by Casey Bryant
Project Team: Souhei Imamura (Design development / documentation), Atelier Imamu; Sotaro Yamamoto (Construction phase administration), Atelier Sotaro Yamamoto
Structural Engineer: Taro Yokoyama, Low Fat Structure Inc.
Area: 106,00 square metres
Client: Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, Australian Embassy Tokyo, Tokamachi City Government
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