the comico art museum is an institution located in japan’s ōita prefecture. designed by kengo kuma, the small museum for contemporary art is located in close proximity to a famous hot spring resort, which has fostered a unique local culture in the nearby town of yufuin. in order to integrate the building with its natural surroundings, the design team covered the structure with charred cedar. this traditional method of wood preservation, known as yakisugi, involves burning the timber in order to create a more durable material.

kengo kuma comico art museum
the building is clad with charred cedar
image © mitsumasa fujitsuka (also main image)

 

 

from afar, the comico art museum appears as a dark, black object. however, on closer inspection, the warmth, patterning, and rhythm of the wood is revealed. at ground level, two exhibition rooms observe each other over a shallow pool which extends from the exterior. upstairs, providing a contrast with the minimally furnished gallery spaces, the lounge on the second floor is wrapped with wood and washi, a traditional japanese paper. meanwhile, a garden for outdoor contemplation surrounds the building.

kengo kuma comico art museum
the burned timber serves as a more durable material
image © mitsumasa fujitsuka

 

 

built next to the museum, the ‘comico art house yufuin’ is a resort and recreational facility developed for the company’s employees. also designed by kengo kuma, the project is divided into three buildings that form a small village along the banks of the river. as the architects wanted to create a loose cluster of buildings, spanning both public and private spaces, there is no clear boundary between the museum and the remainder of the site.

kengo kuma comico art museum
the black building blends with its natural setting
image © mitsumasa fujitsuka

 

 

according to the design team, special attention was paid to the layout of the buildings, and the distances between them, in order to secure the best views of the nearby mount yufu. the roofing also emphasizes these views with thin diagonally arranged steel plates. the interior of each building responds to the institution’s natural setting, comprising a combination of wood, earth, and bamboo.

kengo kuma comico art museum
the design frames views of the nearby mount yufu
image © mitsumasa fujitsuka

kengo kuma comico art museum
the lounge on the second floor is wrapped with warm-colored wood
image © mitsumasa fujitsuka

kengo kuma comico art museum
the gallery spaces are minimally appointed
image © mitsumasa fujitsuka

kengo kuma comico art museum
the ‘comico art house yufuin’ is a resort and recreational facility developed for the company’s employees
image © mitsumasa fujitsuka

kengo kuma comico art museum
the project is divided into three buildings that form ‘a small village’
image © mitsumasa fujitsuka

kengo kuma comico art museum
there is no clear boundary between the museum and the rest of the house
image © mitsumasa fujitsuka

kengo kuma comico art museum
a shallow pool of water surrounds the structure
image © mitsumasa fujitsuka

kengo kuma comico art museum
the entrance to the dwelling gently illuminated at night
image © mitsumasa fujitsuka

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