• john barr

Do|Co|Mo|Mo|Japan|23 : Saga Prefectural Museum : Yoshitaka Uchida and Daiichi Kobo


Do|Co|Mo|Mo is an international organisation dedicated to the Documentation and Conservation of buildings, sites and neighbourhoods of the Modern Movement. The Japanese branch has selected 100 works as representative of the development of the Modern Movement in Japan. In a series of short posts I will feature some of the selected works that I have had the chance to visit and photograph. This post features the Saga Prefectural Museum located in Saga City, completed in 1969 and designed by the architect Yoshitaka Uchida in conjunction with structural engineer Daiichi Kobo Associates...


Background

The building is located in a park that sits within the grounds once occupied by Saga Castle. Almost all the original castle has been destroyed, but part of it, the Honmaru, was reconstructed between 2001 and 2004 and now houses the Saga Castle History Museum on a site adjacent to the Prefectural Museum .


Saga Prefectural Museum, Yoshitaka Uchida and Daichi Kobo Associates, 1969.

Located in a park that sits within the grounds once occupied by Saga Castle.


The Prefectural Museum houses exhibits covering the arts, crafts, archaeology and history of the Saga region, and was built as part of a project that marked the 100th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration of 1868 (see post dated July 6, 2017).


Design

The design was conceived as a total synthesis of structure and architecture. At the core of the plan and section is a cruciform of cast-in-situ concrete stairways that forms the main circulation system running north-south and east west through the centre of the building, dividing it into four quarters.


Saga Prefectural Museum, Yoshitaka Uchida and Daichi Kobo Associates, 1969.

Four stairs that bisect the building north-south and east-west are cantilevered beyond the main exhibition spaces on the upper floor. This view shows the end of the north stair.


The fixed circulation provides an organising armature around which the spaces of the museum can expand as required. The four quarters created by the cruciform circulation are constructed from precast concrete columns with cruciform capitals set within an open-ended grid of precast beams in a prefabricated system similar to that described for Chiba Prefectural Central Library (see post dated July 28, 2021). This arrangement allows exhibition spaces to freely expand from a controlled core of circulation, and each of the four quarters has a different plan.


Saga Prefectural Museum, Yoshitaka Uchida and Daichi Kobo Associates, 1969.

In-situ concrete core of cruciform circulation in background. Pre-cast concrete structure of exhibition spaces in foreground. This view shows one quarter of the building.


The main exhibition spaces are on the upper floor, with the ground floor left largely open, allowing visitors to enter at the centre of the cruciform and disperse in all four directions via the stairways.


Saga Prefectural Museum, Yoshitaka Uchida and Daichi Kobo Associates, 1969.

Visitors enter the building at the crossing point of the cruciform circulation.


Saga Prefectural Museum, Yoshitaka Uchida and Daichi Kobo Associates, 1969.

One of the four stairs leading to the upper level exhibition spaces.


Significance

Like the Chiba Prefectural Central Library featured in a previous post, the design is one of the first in Japan to utilise precast concrete structural elements. The decision to construct the circulation system that runs in both directions through the centre of the building of in-situ concrete is an intelligent use of structure to provide horizontal bracing, but also indicates a strategic approach similar to that promoted by the Japanese Metabolist group: a fixed structure providing circulation supporting flexible accommodation for potentially changing exhibition requirements.


Saga Prefectural Museum, Yoshitaka Uchida and Daichi Kobo Associates, 1969.

View from entrance out to park.


Saga Prefectural Museum, Yoshitaka Uchida and Daichi Kobo Associates, 1969.

Entrance lobby at crossing of cruciform stairs.