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   A visit to the Pola Museum of Art in Hakone

                    April 28,2003  photograph by mirutake






As the train of Hakone Tozan Railway ascended the mountain of Hakone it was like going on an excursion that I felt like getting off the train first at Gora Park、where there was a French style landscaped garden.


We finally got off the loop-line bus, where a bus stop protected by a glass cantilever canopy and a signboard of the museum just stood there to welcome us.








I have read in the architectural magazine that for the construction of this museum the retaining wall was made as a bowl-shaped cut out in the mountainside to protect the water vein of the Hakone forest. The bowl-shaped cut out was to be seen at once where the concrete is cast in steps. The square shaped building is placed inside.


The entrance is all glass.






Entering inside it was like going into a hole but as we descended the escalator we unexpectedly arrived at an expanse of bright abstractive space.












Entrance of the restaurant




Photograph taken close to the frosted glass with newly innovated rib




The stage in the development of glass expression has now come to a point where a large clear glass touching the floor is glazed not just for the opening of one floor but for a whole facade of the skyscraper. And what is more, the glass has been glazed not as the opening to outside but has been used as a huge glass made wall inside with full of light set behind. Appearance of this broad and “opaque and not clear” plane of the frosted glass seems to suggest that the theme of glass expression has been changed to something different, such as producing the lightness of the inner wall. Behind the frosted glass there is a “broad dark” exhibition room . It is rather ornamental in concept but still it is so beautiful and persuasive.







Although there are four openings in the building from which the “ nature trees” can be viewed, the broad frosted glass plane seems to transcend the “nature trees” putting them aside in the corner. Also, the opening of the refreshment lounge which is glazed as if pointed by the triangular shape of the skylight and the forest view from there seem to play just a supporting role. Embedded in the Hakone forest, the location of the museum may be accidentally making it hard to view the broad valley.







When I came to the refreshment lounge I hesitated a moment whether I should sit in front of the nature trees or to sit facing the entrance side where I could look up the skylight. To my surprise the sunshine from the skylight was so sunny that the nature trees seen through the opening was darker.




Hakone forest view from the refreshment lounge


I assumed that maybe the architect wanted to produce a sense of jumping out into Hakone forest here. But the surrounding trees which stand just in front of the opening prevents me from feeling the sense of jumping out. Although the frosted glass wall and the precast concrete ceiling are extended to outside the exterior floor was made in different material instead of using the same material and also the handrail of bowl-shaped wall was rather rough; such details make it hard for our eyesight to get straight through outside, to the nature trees.



I gradually realized that the sight from the opening of the building built in a forest which is surrounded by trees would be darker compared to the brightness of the skylight. Plenty of sunshine come in through the skylight and the frosted glass inner wall is overwhelmingly bright. And most of all, the material touch of this glass wall, made as an abstractive plane, is tasteful and beautiful.





When the direct ray comes in from the skylight, the green orthogonal projection and its reflected light intersect with each other giving such dramatic effect on the glass wall.


When the direct rays disappear it is like this.


When it is darkened more.


Going down the escalator to the lowest floor, which is called the second basement










Since the daylight does not reach here, it is illuminated. This lighted glass wall is beautiful as well.








I realized that the theme of this architecture has been the overwhelming frosted glass wall which covers the four floored stairwell. When the direct ray of the sunshine comes in from the skylight, the green orthogonal projection of the glass rib and the white reflection reflect in the glass wall. It is a moment of enhancement in this quiet museum. When it is cloudy the direct rays won,t come through and the soft and smoking effect of the frosted glass wall is filled in the whole wall, being so calm and opaque. When it gets darker the vertical lines of the lights set behind the wall float up and become a little lively. It is not in the same color temperature but in several grades of light. This is also contributing to the lively effect.















Surely the location here is right in the middle of the nature of Hakone forest, but once I am inside the building I am faced with the huge frosted glass wall and the abstractive kind of nature as there are in the city, such as the blue sky, the cloud, the sunshine and the rainy sky which are seen through the skylight . Such was my impression on the way going out of the museum where once again I was to face with the overwhelming nature trees outside.

The glass box is so good for rainy day appreciation where the shower can be watched through the transparent roof and the transparent glass on sides. Since the clear transparent plane of the slanted skylight in this museum can be observed so close on the upper floor, it might be such a magnificent view on rainy days. This time I was able to observe in the weather which was bright clear and vague cloudy sky. But I was unfortunate to have missed the rain.
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