Tadao Ando’s Chikatsu-Asuka Historical Museum is bold and architectural ambition is embodied in a brilliantly simple design. Architectural ambition is the will to give order to the world, not through language or metaphysics, but design.
Moreover in this case study I’ll be focussing on the importance of STAIRWAYS and how Japanese architect Tadao Ando has used them in designing this museum.
Importance and concept of Stairway in the Chikatsu-Asuka Historical Museum
The reckless attempt to divide the world into two realms by means of an enormous stone stairway is nothing less than architectural ambition.
The roof of the Chikatsu asuka museum is a low-pitched stairway paved with several hundred thousand pieces of white granite; from the stairway three ashen concrete towers rise toward the sky.
The stairway suggests to us Greek ruins or the Pyramids. Most of all, we are made to realize once more how bright and free a stairway toward the sky can be.
It is a pure, intellectual space composed through geometry. Beyond the topmost step, like a lace curtain, are the treetops of the forest of Chikatsu-Asuka, continuing upward toward the heavens. The white stone podium is a threshold to infinite space. The realm above the stairway is a place of reason, of what the Greeks called idea, that is, forms or patterns.
Below the stairway lies the realm of passions. It is a museum dedicated to kofun (burial mounds), and at the same time, a space where ancient spirits dwell, the dwelling place of the genius loci. It is not so much a gallery space as an underground theatre teeming with emotions flitting hither and thither.
Thus, the enormous stone stairway forms a boundary between opposing realms: light and darkness; centrifugal force and centripetal force; intellect and emotions; history and archaeology; museum and tomb.
Still, the chikatsu-asuka historical museum building is a dangerous work that cannot be completely explained in terms of the opposition of macrocosm versus microcosm — This museum of art is a building like no other. There is no other building in the world in which a stairway plays such an important role.
What Tadao Ando’s buildings always communicate to us is the conviction that architecture is able to give order to the world only when it is based on strong emotions, and the faith that strong emotions are born only by taking up challenges and prevailing. Beauty is not the goal of architecture, only the result.
The area of the site in southern Osaka Prefecture is known for its many burial mounds; well over 200 mounds including four imperial mausolea and the tombs of famous historical figures such as the statesman Prince Shotoku (574-622) and the diplomat Ono no Imoko (circa early 7th century) are scattered over the area.
It is an environment in which we can sense the long flow of time from the dawn of Japanese history to the present.
This Tadao ando building is a facility dedicated to the display and research of kofun culture, but it has also been conceived as a hill that affords a panoramic view of the surrounding burial mounds. The stepped roof is an observation deck, plaza, open-air theatre and undulating artificial hill.