The Pola Museum of Art, located in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, surrounded by a deep forest which includes 300-year-old beech trees and a plethora of tall stewartia plants. With such a magnificent natural environment to work in, a primary goal in designing the museum was to achieve coexistence with the environment while losing nothing of the site's floral ecosystem.
Planned for a site 40 meters off a prefectural road, the museum sit on a disk-shaped foundation 74 meters in diameter laid three stories underground, and is resiliently supported at 16 bearing points on laminated rubber. Following the line of the gentle slope on which it sits, the building is kept to a height of 8 meters, and with most of its volume underground, appears to melt into the surrounding forest scenery.
The round footprint of the building allows groundwater of flow unhindered and provides a high degree of stability against earth pressure. Floating the entire building provides a base isolated structure which will not only protects people and art works from earthquakes, but also provides direct access to all parts of the building, allowing replacement of the exterior wall and other building parts that are factory-made to allow for replacement, thus ensuring that this museum building will endure long into the future. The museum has been designed with the aim of creating a building that will settle into its surroundings with the passage of time, without placing any limits on the use of the latest architectural technology.
Arriving at the front door of the museum, visitors will be led across a long, narrow approach bridge extending through a thick growth of tall stewartia plants into the glass entrance hall of the museum. Once in the entrance hall, they will be greeted with a magnificent view of Kozukayama to their left and will be able to grasp the overall layout of the museum by means of a panoramic view downward through the atrium extending to the second underground floor.
Descending to the first floor lobby by escalator, visitors will find the museum shop and a restaurant looking out into the forest. The building's barrier-free design allows visitors who use wheelchairs to enter this floor directly from the parking lot, the which is arranged to take advantage of the slope on which the building sits.
The museum has cross-shaped plan with 4 triangle decks at the corners for quick evacuation. The cross-shape is also used in the section of column.
The atrium lobby showers visitors with light that penetrates the entire height of the museum from the second floor above ground down to the second underground floor, permeating the space with the color of the blue sky and the green of the forest. This space not only prepares the visitor for an encounter with the splendid works of art, but is also be a wonderful place to return to after having viewed the museum's collection. The cafe in the lobby presents visitors with a swatch of green scenery that reaffirms the museum's location in the deep, lush forest of Hakone and demonstrates an ideal way for architecture to coexist with nature.
The display lighting of the Pola Museum or Art was designed with the intent of creating an optimal lighting environment both for viewing art works and for their conservation as cultural assets. Extensive efforts were devoted to finding the high quality of light that would be optimal from the standpoint of conservation, and that would provide the best conditions for viewing works in the museum's collection - in particular its Impressionist paintings.
The gallery, with a ceiling height of 3.9 meters, will be equipped with both florescent up-lights placed at the top of the walls to provide indirect lighting and create an overall bright interior and feeling of depth, and fiber optic lighting for viewing works of art. Optical fiber lighting uses glass fiber to separate light sources from reflective surfaces, and in so doing affords several benefits, among which are control of light quality and elimination of the effects of heat on display items. To obtain optimal lighting conditions for both display and conservation purposes, all of the optical fiber lighting devices for display lighting, together with special light sources, were custom designed for this museum, which can boast a display environment found nowhere else in the world.