The Benesse House Museum, located in Naoshima, Japan, is an internationally renowned art museum and a unique destination for art and architecture enthusiasts. Designed by the acclaimed Japanese architect Tadao Ando, the Museum opened in 1992 as a part of the Benesse Art Site Naoshima project, which aimed to create an art-filled, sustainable community that celebrates the coexistence of art, nature, and architecture.
The Museum’s unique design takes full advantage of the natural surroundings, featuring large openings that blur the boundaries between the interior and exterior spaces. The Museum’s terraced design offers panoramic views of the Seto Inland Sea while also minimizing the structure’s impact on the natural environment.
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
Benesse House Museum Photographs
Benesse House: A Unique Fusion of Art, Nature, and Architecture on Naoshima Island
The Benesse House is a unique and innovative complex of buildings designed by Tadao Ando, located on the beautiful island of Naoshima in Japan. The complex consists of four buildings: the Museum, the Oval (opened in 1995), the Park, and the Beach (both opened in 2006).
The Museum, which opened in 1992, was the first building to be constructed and is the core of the complex. In addition to traditional gallery spaces, the Museum’s artworks are also displayed throughout the entire complex, including in the lodging facilities, making it a fully immersive experience. The Benesse House is a place where people can engage with contemporary art, explore nature, and synergistically experience innovative architecture.
The Oval, which is linked to the existing core of the complex by numerous walkways and a funicular monorail, is set in the heart of a forested area with a beautiful variety of plant and tree life. The building’s oval plan, single level, and central courtyard make it a unique and peaceful place to stay. The luxury accommodations in the Oval include four double guest rooms, two suites, and an in-house cafe.
Part of the new structure and garden were set underground to preserve the environment, just like in the existing building—the oval measures 40 meters on its long axis and 20 meters on the shorter axis. The central courtyard features a large pool that forms a liquid sculpture and is enclosed by a portico that can be used as an outdoor gallery.
In addition to the artworks in the Museum’s collection, the Benesse House also features permanent site-specific installations created by artists who selected their own locations and designed works specifically for those spaces. These installations can be found throughout the entire complex, including the nearby seashore and forest. The Benesse House is a rare site that beautifully integrates nature, art, and architecture, with numerous site-specific works that celebrate the natural surroundings of Naoshima and 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 about 13km north of Takamatsu in Kagawa Prefecture and 3km south of Tamano in Okayama Prefecture. The main island and 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 primary industries include businesses related to Mitsubishi Materials and fish farming of yellowtail and seaweed.
About Tadao Ando
Tadao Ando is a Japanese architect known for his minimalist architectural style that emphasizes the use of simple geometric forms and clean lines, as well as the incorporation of natural light, water, and other natural elements. Ando is recognized for his innovative use of concrete, which he often leaves exposed, and his careful consideration of the relationship between buildings and their surroundings. Some of his notable works include the Church of the Light, the Water Temple, and the Pulitzer Arts Foundation. He has won numerous awards for his work, including the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1995, considered the highest honor in the field of architecture.