TOTO GALLERY·MA Exhibition  SANAA: Architecture & Environment

TOTO GALLERY·MA (Tokyo, Japan) is currently holding the exhibition “Architecture & Environment” by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA (through March 20, 2022). As this exhibition features projects by Kazuyo Sejima, Ryue Nishizawa and SANAA (Sejima and Nishizawa’s joint works) around the world, you will be able to experience a variety of “environment” that surrounded each project, and how Sejima and Nishizawa reacted to each of them, either individually, or as a team. They pay great attention to each element that constitutes an environment, from natural environment, natural resources (that could be used as building materials), geographic formation, local climate, built environment, people in the community or can use the project site, to the history that helped shape the community. It is the gist of their philosophy which makes their architecture unique: they’ve always tried to design buildings that could be integrated into the surrounding environment, instead of shielding them from what’s going on outside.

TOTO GALLERY·MA has two stories and a terrace. On the lower floor, Sejima and Nishizawa placed models – including many ongoing projects across the globe – with unique surrounding environment so that visitors could feel/experience how they chose to connect each project with larger settings. The upper floor featured large-scale projects with some design pieces with real size scale so that visitors could learn how they materialized their ideas into reality. Sejima often says architects have to go back and forth between philosophical, abstract thinking and very specific, material considerations. If the first floor was SANAA’s philosophical approach towards environment, the upper floor shows how they bring them into real life.

The Lower Floor

The House in Los Vilos: Office of Ryue Nishizawa, 2018

The House in Los Vilos stands on a narrow point that belongs to the Chilean coast facing the vast Pacific Ocean. Nishizawa visited the location multiple times and was impressed by the wild environment shaped by arid climate and strong ocean winds, which was totally different from Japan’s mild, humid one. He decided to design a tough concrete building to resist untamed power of nature in the area. The roofs have large, gradual undulations to protect rooms underneath, from which people can see forceful nature through tall glass windows.

The Cascade: SANAA, 2020

The Cascade stands near the top of a mountain that commands beautiful views. The entire project looks like frost columns sticking from the ground, as units are distributed according to natural slopes to form several groups. Rooms are connected to each other via patios to ensure privacy and secure great views.

The O-Project: SANAA, 2021

The O-Project is a hotel complex planned on large premises in Europe. Rectangular buildings that come in different sizes have long-shell vaults supported by four pillars. They are covered by concrete slabs of 150mm thick, and can be as wide as 17 meters. Such structure allows to flexibly design the interior to meet different needs; some rooms are small/narrow, some other areas are used as large terraces.

The Mishima Office Building: Office of Ryue Nishizawa, 2021

The Mishima Office Building is the headquarters for a construction company located at the foot of Mt. Fuji. Under a mild climate, you can enjoy gentle sunlight and the beautiful mountain, which spit lava rocks long time ago. (yes, Mt. Fuji is an active volcano!) Two cloud-shaped slabs that are layered slightly unaligned allows different areas of the building to open to the environment in different ways – some areas are under the shade, and some are connected to surrounding gardens. Nishizawa imagines this place as a small forest surrounded by trees and lava rocks.

The Shishiiwa House: Kazuyo Sejima & Associates, 2021

The Shishiiwa House is a small-scale hotel project planned in the middle of Hakone volcanic mountain areas, which is a popular retreat areas with hot springs about 90 minutes drive from Tokyo. As the site sits on a mountainside densely covered with trees, Sejima distributed service areas such as café, common baths (one of the key amenities for Japanese hotels) or picnic areas by taking advantage of natural slopes. Each facility will allow visitors to enjoy the surrounding environment as they are carefully designed to be connected with it.

The House in the Countryside Selestat: SANAA, 2021

The House in Countryside Selestat is a residential renovation project for a small town in Selestat, Alsace, France. The houses (some will be renovated, and some will be built new) will be blended with other elements of the community such as a small museum, workshops or farms/fields through gardens scattered throughout it.

The Garden Tower: SANAA, 2021

The Garden Tower is a residential complex project by Scheldt River in a development zone located in the suburb of Antwerp, Belgium. As the area consists of high rise building (80 meter tall) and low rise ones (20 meter tall), SANAA was requested to design a high rise tower to match existing buildings. They chose to divide the building into 10 units, whic look like a tall piece of sculpture.

The Garden Office: SANAA, 2021

The Garden Office sits on a slope and is partially surrounded by retaining walls. SANAA designed the building so that the entire area could feel like a large garden; floors are open to the outer environment to organically integrate into it.

The shenzhen maritime museum: SANAA, 2021

Earlier this year, SANAA was selected to design the Shenzhen Maritime Museum from an international competition. An extensive museum complex will be sitting on a beautiful site next to wetlands, and between mountains and a bay. In order to dissolve into uniquely rich natural environment that made Shenzhen one of the busiest ports in the world, SANAA proposed “the cloud on the ocean.” From above, the entire complex looks like floating clouds as shallow hemispheric roofs that come in different sizes and materials (some are transparent, some are translucent and some are opaque) are loosely connected to each other. Inside the buildings, visitors will enjoy different services by taking advantage of different intensity of light coming through hemispheric roofs, glass windows, or the shades created by them.

The Suzhou Lion Mountain Square Art Theater: SANAA, 2021

The Suzhou Lion Mountain Square Art Theater is located in Shizishan District urban park area by the lake overlooking the mountains. As the museum is part of the area’s re-development plan, SANAA designed mountain-like roofs that would embrace the entire building. Underneath the roofs are the theaters, courtyards and hallways that connect visitors to the park area.