The city of Gojo in Nara Prefecture began its development about 200 years ago during the Edo Period. Located at the intersection of important communication routes, it is still famousfor its traditional houses and cultural attractions.
When Tadao Ando first approached regarding this project, the location of the museum had not yet been chosen. The final decision to build on the site that it now occupies was taken on the basis of the proposal of Tadao Ando to locate the building on top of a hill overlooking the city. This resulted in some difficulties for the contractors, but the opportunity for the inhabitants of the city to benefit from a work of architecture in a site with obvious symbolic value was very attractive indeed.
Ando wanted to reforest the hill-top totally so that the museum could be constructed in a sheltered corner of the new woodland. The circular gallery at the center of the building offers the opportunity to enjoy a view of the city below. Most importantly, to make the most of this design, two new elements were incorporated within the building: a room for tea ceremonies and a meeting space. When it was completed Ando's hope was that the entire building at the top of the hill would come to be used as a social center and meeting place for the entire local community.
Inside the building the walls are exposed concrete while outside the same concrete structures are covered with panels of galvanized steel, a material with its own unique characteristics. In particular, it seems able to absorb elements, such as wind or light.
Indeed, the architectural expression of the complex cannot be separated from its shape and the materials used. Each material possesses qualities that architect has used in order to inspire emotive communication with people who actively enjoy architecture. The galvanized steel provides more strength than concrete surfaces, and fluoropolymer treatments on it may increase resistance to wear and tear. From the perspective of the materials used, this project was experimental in nature for Tadao. He is attracted by materials that, like all living creatures, age and decay with time.
Tadao's hope that the people for whom he has so far designed private homes share this line of thinking. With public buildings intended for large numbers of people, howerver, architects must pay close attention to the problems of attrition and maintenance, and for this reason Ando believe that he must continue experimenting with new materials.