17.07.2012 Peter Popp

Individual Twist - Museum and Cultural Centre in Aomori

The Nebuta Museum in the northern Japanese port city of Aomori is wrapped in a very unusual curtain of red steel ribbons. The architects developed the façade of the building entirely without the help of CAD programmes. Instead, a 1:50 paper model ¬of the 748 ribbons formed the basis of the final individually twisted steel design. Architects:
molo design, Vancouver, Stephanie Forsythe, Todd MacAllen
Frank La Rivière Architects, Tokyo, Frank La Rivière
d/dt Arch, Tokyo, Yasuo Nakata
Location: Yasukata 1-1-1, J–030-0803 Aomori
The building encircled by shimmering, red, twisted steel ribbons contains an exhibition hall, a theatre, rehearsal rooms and a restaurant. The cultural centre is dedicated to the Nebuta Matsuri Festival, one of the largest festivals in Japan. Nebuta are floats of hand-made, brightly coloured paper figures of warriors, animals and demons, which are illuminated from the inside and paraded through the city during the festival.
The façade of the building was developed without using CAD programmes.

A film documents how diverse design parameters were checked on the model:

The tops of the individual steel ribbons are all arranged parallel to the edge of the roof, while opening up at different angles towards the ground, depending on the incidence of sunlight in the course of the day. Between these fixed points, the ribbons are twisted around their own axes, with some of these creating openings by an additional sideways bend. The overall design looks like it could have been the work of the wind, which gives the structure an additional lightness. The suspended steel ribbons are 12 metres high, 30 centimetres wide and nine millimetres thick. Flexible fixation at three further points allows for thermal expansion effects and bending through wind loads.
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