Modern Museums

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 November, 2007, 12:00am

Museum of Wood, Japan, by Tadao Ando, 1994

In the heart of the Mikata-Gun forest, a three-hour drive from Osaka, the Museum of Wood was built to celebrate the annual National Tree Festival. Shaped like a truncated cone 46m in diameter, the structure contains a round hollow space with a 22m diameter housing a pool of water with a suspended bridge that takes visitors into the museum. Dense 18m wooden pillars support the roof in the central courtyard with a skylight that filters light into the building.

Getty Centre, Los Angeles, by Richard Meier, 1997

Home to the J. Paul Getty Museum as well as a research institute, conservation institute, grant programme and leadership institute, the Getty Centre lies on a hilltop in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking the Los Angeles landscape. Computer-operated trams transport visitors from street-level to the top of the entrance. Meier strategically placed the buildings along a natural ridge in the hilltop creating an open space for courtyard and terraces.

Tate Modern, London, by Herzog & de Meuron, 2000

Originally a power station on the south bank of the Thames in London, Swiss architectural duo Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron retained much of the building's character, including a 99m high chimney, an iconic feature of the power station which closed in 1981. A roof-top light box was installed running the length of the building to create a glowing cap at night. The 3,400 square feet Turbine Hall was converted into an entrance while the boiler rooms were transformed into galleries.

Nat. Museum of Aust., Canberra, by Howard Raggatt, 2001

Steering clear of conventional museum architecture, Raggatt developed a postmodern structure to reflect the diversity of the museum's collection. The oversize sculptural loop at the entrance is the building's most noticeable feature and the most visible part of the Uluru line which unfurls across the Acton Peninsula. The building itself is composed of individual spaces fitted together to a colourful exterior of crimson, orange and bronze.

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain, by Frank Gehry, 1997

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, is one of the most unique structures in the world. Made from limestone blocks and contrasted with curved and bent forms covered in titanium, the building is built upon a combination of interconnecting geometric shapes. The 24,000 square feet landmark is Gehry's homage to the decaying steelmaking and shipbuilding city of Bilbao. Despite its tough facade, the glow reflected off the titanium points to a brighter future.

Museum of Modern Art, New York, by Yoshio Taniguchi, 2004

In 2002, MoMA closed for its US$425 million renovation headed by Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi. Reopening two-and-a-half years later, Taniguchi expanded the museum to about 630,000 square feet allowing for more work to be showcased. He said his goal was 'to create an ideal environment for art and people through the imaginative and disciplined use of light, materials, and space'. The galleries are all contained around a 35m glass atrium.

Yamanashi Museum of Fruit, Japan, by Itsuko Hasegawa, 1997

One of the most prominent female figures in Japanese architecture, Hasegawa's work often pushes the boundaries between the natural and the artificial. The Yamanashi Museum of Fruit, in west Tokyo, is considered one of the most important structures of the past three decades. Comprised of scattered yet connected domes of a fruit plaza, exhibition hall, tropical greenhouse, workshop and water garden, the glass and steel structures represent the vitality and variety of fruit.

Suzhou Museum, China, by I.M. Pei, 2006

Revisiting his roots in Suzhou, China, I.M. Pei has taken elements from a Suzhou-style garden and the simple geometric structures of modern art to create a modern yet distinctly oriental complex housing more than 30,000 cultural relics. Built with the concept of 'Chinese style with innovation, Suzhou style with creativity', the museum successfully achieves the idea of 'not too high, not too large, and not too abrupt'.