The Museum as a Living Space

Project architects Kengo Kuma and Yuki Ikeguchi discuss the OMM building.

Kengo Kuma at OMM
Kengo Kuma at OMM
Yuki Ikeguchi at OMM
Yuki Ikeguchi at OMM

OMM: You listed geometry, light, aggregation and timber as the four pillars of this project. Which elements do you think will surprise the audience most when they experience the OMM building?

Kengo Kuma: For the OMM building, I wanted to create a
sense of intimacy by using small- scale units—to achieve a sense of warmth. Throughout the building, the geometry is not perpendicular. I think the fact that such a geometrical building can also be as organic will surprise people.

OMM: What are your first thoughts when you walk into a completed KKAA project on the day or night of the reception?


Yuki Ikeguchi: Having been a practicing architect over the past decade, I would imagine I would have a better understanding as to what the place will look like in the end. However, there is always a surprise element. Often, we will take photographs of the place before it opens; but the true sense of space only gets completed when people start enjoying it. So my favorite moment in a project is to see people come in and “use” it.

OMM: Mr. Kuma, you mentioned how you see museums as centers of community, beyond art, on multiple occasions.


KK: Yes—I think museums can function as public centers in the 21st century. Museums can be more than just spaces for art, they can be living rooms for the community. As a basic idea, OMM is a living space, and it’s very intimate and warm. That’s the very reason why we used wood,
and introduced natural light into the building.

OMM: The building’s architectural design was inspired by Odunpazarı, the historic Ottoman neighborhood where the museum is located. For someone who is familiar with the neighborhood’s history as an old wood market, it at once reminds one of stacks of timbers, as well as the interlocking wooden frames that carry the Odunpazarı houses.

“When looking at sites, we always see the new building as a link. We try to extract
the essence of a city, and translate it into a different form. That way, the link between the old and the new becomes much firmer.”

— Yuki Ikeguchi

YI: When looking at sites, we always see the new building as a link. We try to extract the essence of a city, and translate it into a different form. That way, the link between the old and the new becomes much firmer.

The idea of aggregation came about this way: Each box represents, corresponds to or reflects the residential scale being composed. Another intention was to bring in the experience of the street, because unlike modern cities, the scale of the street is very defined and made by this in-and-out composition of the buildings in Odunpazarı. These traditional wooden houses are
not erected in a straight manner; the second floor juts out and this creates a really beautiful space when you walk through the street. The intention was also to bring
that feeling inside the museum: A meandering path through the boxes.

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