Material Focus: GC Prostho Museum, Kengo Kuma

Wood is one of the most common and timeless building materials, however, the way in which it is used in Kengo Kuma’s GC Prostho Museum brings forth an orderly construction logic not typically seen. This logic originates from Cidori, an old Japanese toy.  Cidori is a system of wooden sticks with unique joints.  The joints come together by simply twisting the sticks into the joint.  This system fits together without any nails, screws or metal hardware.    The toy is based on a 12mm cube as its module.  This module was extended to a 50cm cubic grid for the museum.  This grid is used both on the exterior and interior of the building.  In the interior, this grid appears carved out in areas to frame a stairwell in one case, and further more is used as racking for pieces displayed in the museum.

The structural engineer for the project conducted compression and flex tests to verify that this system could be adapted from a small toy to a large building.  The grid shows a logic that can be built with your own hands.  It was the desire of the designers of the project to eliminate architecture that relies on machines and bring a human, handmade process back into play.  Although this style of joint is old, it took a toy and increased its scale to become a building.  Furthermore, it created a grid for the building that everything had to fit inside, from stairwells to displays to bathrooms.  In the case of the museum, the 50cm cubic grid was the measurement that governed the design and organization of the building.

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