Stone Museum in Nasu

Because of the danger of earthquakes in Japan, relatively few areas have a tradition ofstone building. Situated between Tokyo andYamagata, the Ashino region, where the present museum stands, is one of the exceptions. The new complex there consists of three rice stores dating from the 1930s and three new buildings, all of which are laid out about a central pool of water. The pool is intersected by a series of pathways that lead to a courtyard around which the exhibition areas are located. An elongated structure housing the library closes the complex off to the south. Although the new and existing buildings are in volcanic Ashino stone, they are different in character. Incontrast to the traditional, solid, rough-hewn masonry of the older structures, the walls of thenew buildings are precisely worked and articulated to relieve the sense of heaviness associated with stone. The load-bearing walls of the northern section are honeycombed with a geometric pattern of slit-like openings and recesses. The openings are filled internally with marble, which lends the construction a translucent quality. This concept is continued in the walls of the southern tract facing the pool of water, where the load-bearing steel structure is clad on the outside with slender strips of stone that allow air and light to pass through. In this way, the stonework is dissolved and acquires aquality of lightness and transparency. The internal and external pavings, as well as the roofing to one of the existing buildings, are in Shirakawa stone.
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