kengo kuma's timber louvers echo thatched roof of aoi aso shrine

kengo kuma's timber louvers echo thatched roof of aoi aso shrine

A Modern Addition to an Historic Site

 

Kengo Kuma & Associates has recently completed the Aoi Aso Shrine Memorial Hall in Hitoyoshi, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan. The new timber structure sits alongside the Aoi Aso Shrine, a nationally recognized Shinto shrine known for its thatched roof. The architects aimed to create a harmonious relationship between the new and the old. The Memorial Hall combines a shrine office, a museum, and a large tatami room for community gatherings. The design acknowledges the powerful presence of the existing shrine with its traditional thatched roof.
kengo kuma aoi aso

images © Masaki Hamada / Kkpo, ©︎ Masatoshi Hoshino / HOSHINO DESIGN CONSCIOUS

 

 

kengo kuma replicates thatched texture with timber

 

Designing its Memorial Hall at Aoi Aso Shrine, the architects at Kengo Kuma & Associates employed a unique facade made of wooden louvers. These flame-resistant louvers create a rhythm that echoes the gaps and curves of the thatched roof. This approach represents a challenge, attempting to bridge the gap between traditional vocabulary and contemporary technology. The architects found inspiration in a specific construction technique. The overlapping layers resting on metal roof seams, a method used in the Hiroshige Museum of Art (another Kengo Kuma project completed in 2000), offered a new perspective. This technique was reinterpreted to evoke the soft, porous texture of thatched roofs in a modern context.

kengo kuma aoi aso
Kengo Kuma & Associates builds a memorial hall next to a historic Shinto shrine

 

 

material and meaning at aoi aso shrine

 

With its project at Aoi Aso Shrine, Kengo Kuma & Associates incorporates a symbolic element. The large columns supporting the roof were crafted from a fallen 400-year-old Sano cedar tree from the Sano Shrine in Miyazaki Prefecture. This tree’s age mirrors that of the Aoi Aso Shrine, subtly linking the two structures. The project faced a significant hurdle early on.

Hitoyoshi experienced record-breaking torrential rain just before construction began. The flooding caused by the Kumagawa River destroyed the handrails on the nearby Misogi Bridge and inundated the planned building site. Despite the potential setback, the project persevered. The unwavering passion of the shrine’s chief priest, Mr. Fukukawa, and the local community’s dedication to recovery ensured the Memorial Hall’s completion, nearly as originally envisioned.

kengo kuma aoi aso
the new building houses a shrine office, museum, and a large community room kengo kuma aoi aso
the design incorporates wooden louvers that echo the existing thatched roof kengo kuma's timber louvers echo thatched roof of aoi aso shrine
the textural cladding reflects a challenge to merge tradition with modern technology

aoi-shrine-memorial-hall-kengo-kuma-associates-designboom-06a

layers on the metal roof reference a technique used in the Hiroshige Museum of Art

kengo kuma's timber louvers echo thatched roof of aoi aso shrine
the design incorporates a 400-year-old Sano cedar tree, mirroring the shrine’s age

aoi-shrine-memorial-hall-kengo-kuma-associates-designboom-08a

the Aoi Aso Shrine Memorial Hall unites modern elements with respect for history

 

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project info:

 

project title: Aoi Aso Shrine Memorial Hall

architecture: Kengo Kuma | @kkaa_official

location: Hitoyoshi, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan

area: 904 square meters

completion: November 2023

photography: © Masaki Hamada / Kkpo, ©︎ Masatoshi Hoshino / HOSHINO DESIGN CONSCIOUS

 

team: Hironori Nagai, Yu Watabe, Shogo Otaka, Fumiya Kaneko, Yuzuru Kamiya
construction: Iwai/Sokunaga/Miyahara Construction Joint Venture
cooperation: Ejiri Structural Engineers
facility: Kankyo Engineering

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ARCHITECTURE IN JAPAN (1489)

KENGO KUMA (262)

WOOD AND TIMBER ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN (909)

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