Page 14 - MODUS NEWS 04
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d. t. suzuki
Daisetsu Teitaro (D.T.) Suzuki was a Buddhist philosopher born in 1870 in Kanazawa, who helped to spread the practice and understanding of Zen Buddhism in the west. Given
the importance of his teachings, which included Japanese spirituality, the Zen doctrine of No-Mind, and the Zen and Japanese culture, the city of Kanazawa decided to construct the D.T. Suzuki Museum near his birthplace.
Here is what architect Yoshio Taniguchi says about creating this special place. “The design is aimed at creating an environment appropriate to the pursuit of tranquility, nature, and freedom and a place for contemplation, relaxation,
and conversation, while making the most of the distinctive qualities of the site. The museum is composed of three interconnected structures (a vestibule, exhibition space, and contemplation space), which are paired with the vestibule garden, the roji garden, and the water mirror garden, respectively. I divided the museum into three structures to avoid monumentality and to give this facility an appearance appropriate to Suzuki’s unassuming character.
“Inside the exhibition space is a gallery of minimal size for displaying items, such as Suzuki’s books, calligraphic works, photographs, and correspondence, as well as a learning space where small lectures can be held. A corner is provided facing the roji garden where books can be read in a quiet atmosphere.
“These three structures are connected by a corridor that combines an interior space and an exterior space. The way to the exhibition space from the vestibule is an enclosed, faintly lit space, while the way back from the exhibition space to the contemplation space is an open-air space. As one moves through these contrasting spaces, the landscape changes in dramatic ways.
“I have had experience designing a number of museums dedicated to individuals, many of them artists. Simply displaying works by the artists sufficed to give character to those buildings. However, the individual here was
a philosopher, and the few items available for display consisted mainly of books, manuscripts, calligraphic
works, and photographs. The biggest task therefore was
to search for a spatial organization befitting a building dedicated to a philosopher who had explained the origins of Japanese culture. I sought a model for such an organization in the Japanese space of toko.
“The space called toko, or tokonoma, has undergone changes over time, but this form of spatial expression unique to Japan continues to be found even in contemporary houses. An alcove whose boundaries are defined by elements such as the corner post (tokobashira), floor frame (tokogamachi), and upper-frame beam (otoshigake), it takes up a portion of an already narrow domestic space, but until a scroll has been
hung, an object of art placed, and a seasonal flower arranged, it is an entirely functionless space of nothingness. I believed that the toko, in essence a museum in miniature whose appearance changes with the least adornment, symbolized to a remarkable degree an aspect of Japanese culture and was an appropriate element with which to organize this project.
“Small spaces arranged at nodes in the path of circulation inside the D.T. Suzuki Museum, each equipped with an item such as a sign bearing the name of the museum or a photographic portrait, were designed with the space of the toko in mind. The exhibition space and the learning space both have actual toko with an upper-frame beam and a corner post. The toko in the exhibition space serves as a display case, and the toko in the learning space, defined
by a lacquered floorboard, is used for special exhibitions. The contemplation space is itself a toko space that changes entirely depending on the way it is furnished, and windows frame views that change with the season.
“New leaves appear in spring, and the area turns crimson with foliage in autumn. The water mirror is radiant under a summer sky and clouded by dancing snowflakes in winter. These endlessly repeated changes in season, weather, and time add the colors of nature to the design of nothingness that was my goal.”

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