Woodcarving Museum

Woodcarving Museum in Inami, Japan by Peter Salter, 1993

This project for a woodcarving museum in Inami, Japan, is indicative of Peter Salter's (along with fellow Architectural Association tutor Chris MacDonald) interpretation of natural forces and landscape elements toward design. Intended to accommodate religious sculpture and fretted transom screens (though also displaying wood sculpture, associated with an annual international exhibition taking place at Inami each year) the museum attempts to focus on the boundary between inside and outside by integrating with the surroundings. The illustrations at left give an indication of the strong relationship between nature and the crude, though thoughtfully detailed, structures of the museum.

The permanent collection of the museum is made up of objects originally intended for domestic use. By taking these objects from their original context and relocating them in a series of small enclosures within the museum, a strong, intimate relationship is made between the viewer and the setting, in addition to the objects on view. Instead of providing a neutral backdrop for the artifacts, typical of most museums, the design attempts to integrate them with the natural context. The artifacts are seen mainly in natural light, relating to the nearby temple on the edge of Inami, though the architect used forms to create spots of light channeled through light "snorkels".

The basic plan is a series of pavilions surrounding a courtyard. The spatial character of each pavilion is unique, with differing construction and materials (from crude to fine), reflecting the sequential movement of the visitor. This procession aims to provide a distinction between the rooms and the courtyard, though the courtyard spaces are seen as external "rooms", as they are provided with additional space for temporary exhibits.

Though not very well known outside of his native Britain, nor Japan, Peter Salter's work strives a balance between contemporary forms and vernacular (almost primitive) construction, with an ability to use nature as an influence without resorting to metaphor. (See another post on the project, in completed form, here.)