A 30 minute train ride out of Kyoto, Osaka or Nara will take you to the peaceful agricultural town of Kyotanabe. A few minutes walk form the station you will find the Tanada Piece gallery, the town’s first and only public art gallery. It is also the town’s only community building.
The clients, long time residents and former school teachers of Kyotanabe, had a dream of creating a way of connecting their neighborhood by building an art gallery where they could exhibit the works of former students.
At first, we considered how the new building would function as a gallery in that region. We could not approach it in the same way as we would a gallery located in a bustling city. It would not be able to stay open late and the population of the region would not allow for the gallery to be constantly busy. To increase the affectivity of the new space we decided that its function should not be limited to that of an art gallery but rather extend to that of a community centre, allowing for multiple functions. We extended the program to include, as well as gallery space, a children’s library, a small concert hall, casual gathering space, and lecture room. Following this, it was our desire for the gallery to become an icon of the local community: a place whose function is not entirely set but becomes a place where community members can gather and relax. As the knowledge of Tanada Piece gallery has spread from person to person, several events have taken place there, attended by both young and old. We strongly believe that architecture should provide for the needs of its community. We saw this in a more serious light while designing for Kyotanabe due to the absence of any other community buildings. Our dream is that this gallery will last and begin to characterize the local region.
Situated on the proposed site were the clients’ prefabricated house and a Japanese style house. Neither of these was in effective working condition. The western half of the clients’ house was badly damaged, used only for storage and the pan-handle entrance to the Japanese house was inaccessibly cluttered with debris. The western half of the house was then demolished and in its place now stands the Tanada Gallery. It is separate from the house except for one small door that leads between the two. A visual connection between house and gallery was created by refinishing the house in white colored steel paneling to match the white of the gallery. The texture of the steel, however, differs from that of the gallery so as to distinguish old from new. The space created by the large roof overhang of the gallery continues along the side of the house further connecting it to the gallery. Along the east side of the house runs a main street. If one approaches the gallery from the south, the restored house, now in clean white, attracts residents to the new public venue. Access to the Japanese house behind was also restored so as to create three buildings in relationship with each other where the two had stood before.
To generate a design for the interior we envisioned scenes of activity for the functions that the space would provide for. These scenes we then edited and combined to crate the spaces. As we overlaid the scenes to create the interior layout, we introduced mixed levels to accommodate for a grater variety in program. The stepped form arrived at bares resemblance to the tanada (棚田), the terraced rice fields of the region. There is a certain planned ambiguity in the spaces that allows for users to create there own program from the space, a program that had not been specifically designed for or envisioned before hand. Children from the elementary school across the street from the gallery enjoy playing in the gallery’s ambiguous white forms.
Thus the gallery space created is more than just a “white cube” space. It’s unconventional exhibition spaces has an effect on the way in which the artist will exhibit. The space can be used by the artist in their own way as it challenges them to take the space into consideration what planning an exhibition. This interaction with the space is an attempt at creating spaces that are open to the characterization of its users, so that the way in which it is used determines its use. And so in turn, at the people characterize the space so the architecture characterizes the urban landscape.