The Benesse House Museum designed by Tadao Ando opened in 1992 as a facility integrating a museum with a hotel based on the concept of “coexistence of nature, art, and architecture.” The project is built on high ground overlooking the Seto Inland Sea and features large apertures that serve to open up the interior to the splendid natural surroundings.
Benesse House Museum Technical Information
- Architect: Tadao Ando | Tadao Ando Profile
- Location: Naoshima, Japan
- Material: Concrete
- Project Year: 1992
- Client: Benesse House
- Photographs: © Xia Zhi, © Carl Martin
You cannot simply put something new into a place. You have to absorb what you see around you, what exists on the land, and then use that knowledge along with contemporary thinking to interpret what you see.
– Tadao Ando
Text by Benesse Art Side Naoshima Museum
The Benesse House consists of four buildings, all designed by Tadao Ando: the Museum, the Oval (opened in 1995), the Park and the Beach (both opened in 2006) on the island of Naoshima.
The Museum opened in 1992, followed by additional lodging facilities in the buildings. Contemporary art is displayed not only within the Museum galleries but also in all parts of the buildings and surrounding area. Guests can engage with artworks everywhere they go, digest the experience at leisure in their rooms, and emerge to be inspired by art once more. The Benesse House is a place where people can explore art, nature, architecture, and their thoughts in a multi-layered and synergistic fashion. The complex, intended to blend increasingly into the natural environment of Setonaikai National Park as the years go by, was entirely designed by Tadao Ando. It is meant to be appreciated with the entire body, with long ramps, stairs, and passages to traverse, and with natural light from outside pouring in through apertures, weaving together the indoors and outdoors.
Located on the side of a hill, it was part of a complex of buildings that brought museums, galleries, conference facilities, a hotel and a restaurant all onto one site. The extension, which was 40 meters higher up at the top of the hill, is linked to the existing core of the unique Benesse complex by numerous walkways as well as a funicular monorail. With an oval plan and only one level, the building is set in the heart of a forested area that boasts a lovely variety of plant and tree life. The annex also offers vista points from which to appreciate the lush vegetation and spectacular views of the Seto Inland Sea.
To protect the environment, part of the new structure and its garden was set underground, as in the existing one. The oval itself measures 40 meters on its long axis and 20 meters on the shorter one. Luxury accommodation here includes four double guest rooms, two suites, and an in-house cafe. The central courtyard also has a large pool with an oval shape measuring 20 by 10 meters on its long and short axes, respectively. It forms a sort of liquid sculpture and is enclosed by a portico that could be used as an outside gallery.
In addition to exhibiting the painting, sculpture, photography, and installations in its collection, the Museum also contains permanent site-specific installations that artists have created especially for the building, selecting locations on their own and designing the works for those spaces. The Museum’s artworks are found not just within its galleries, but in all parts of the building, as well as in scattered locations along the seashore that borders the complex and in the nearby forest. Benesse House Museum is truly a rare site where nature, art, and architecture come together, in an environment containing numerous site-specific works created for the natural environs of Naoshima or inspired by the architectural spaces they inhabit.
The Benesse House is a place where people can explore art, nature, architecture, and their own thoughts in a multi-layered and synergistic fashion.
Benesse House Museum Plans
Benesse House Museum Gallery
About Naoshima Island
The island is situated about 13km north of Takamatsu in Kagawa Prefecture and 3km south of Tamano in Okayama Prefecture. The main island, together with the surrounding Naoshima group of islands, form the town of Naoshima in Kagawa Prefecture. The island is comprised of three districts: the Miyanoura District, a busy area with the frequent arrival and departures of ferry services; the Honmura District, modeled on the castle towns of the time of the civil war with castles by the sea; and Tsumu’ura District, a fishing harbor with a long history since the olden times. The island’s main industries include businesses related to Mitsubishi Materials and fish farming of yellowtail and seaweed.
About Tadao Ando
Born in Osaka, 1941, Tadao Ando established his architecture firm in 1969. He is a Professor Emeritus of the University of Tokyo and has received many Japanese and international awards, including the Gold Medal of UIA (International Union of Architects, 2005) and the Pritzker Architecture Prize (1995).
Other works of Tadao Ando