Sayamaike Historical Museum

by | 08. Aug 2012

Cultural | Feature

Photo: arcspace

The Sayamaike Historical Museum is located on the edge of Sayamaike Pond, an artificial lake that dates back to the 7th century. 

The Sayamaike was constructed as an agricultural reservoir for flood control measures but was remodeled into a flood control dam.  During that process, various kinds of precious heritage were found.

The museum is dedicated to the relics and techniques of ancient Japanese water engineering along with the history of the community, through conservation of the bank strata and exhibition of various historical items excavated from the pond.

I decided to integrate the surrounding environment into the architecture, to create a place appropriate to the history that Sayamaike embraces, where the environment itself becomes a museum.
/Tadao Ando

Photo: arcspace

I attempted to generate a dynamic sequence of spaces appropriate to the exhibition’s scale.
/Tadao Ando

Because of the site being about 15 meters below the bank Ando buried the building in a gradual continuation of the bank.

To maintain a homogenous atmosphere with the surrounding tranquility, and  not stand out in the landscape, the external walls above ground are stone heaps.

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

Following a path along the waters of Sayamaike, lined with cherry-blossom trees,  visitors pass a  wall of rough granite blocks to arrive at a concrete plaza . Steps in the corner of the plaza lead down to a water patio with pools and cascading waterfalls on both sides.

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

A recessed walkway along the edge of the central pool, behind a curtain of water,   leads into a rotunda at the opposite end.  A ramp inside the rotunda guides visitors to the mid-level entrance to the building.

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

The buildings volume was determined by the scale of the museum’s main archaeological relic; a 15.4 meter tall and 62 meter wide relic of the early engineering that was cut  through the old dam, dried out, and reassembled in the museum to show how layers were added and sluices threaded through by a succession of builders.  The excavated wall is housed in a triple-height exhibition hall.

Photo: arcspace

Simple cubic volumes, concrete planes, rotundas, ramps and stairs,  meticulously poured concrete, wood, iron, steel and glass… water and light.

Sketch courtesy Tadao Ando

Drawing courtesy Tadao AndoSite Plan
Drawing courtesy Tadao AndoPlan


ARCHITECTTadao Ando Architects