New Shanghai museum fetes Japanese architect
Updated: 2018-01-10

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Photos, building models and documentaries are on display to show Japanese architect Tadao Ando's designs. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A new art museum in Shanghai celebrated its opening with an exhibition featuring its designer, Japanese architect Tadao Ando, in late December.

The Pearl Art Museum is located on the eighth floor of a new mall named The Aegean Place on Wuzhong Road in Shanghai's Hongqiao area.

The museum is fused with a bookstore in a 4,800-square-meter, egg-shaped space atop the commercial building.

The opening exhibition, Leading, is a retrospective of Ando's 40-year career that'll run through May 20. It features building models, documentaries, manuscripts and other displays related to the architect.

Ando has won such international awards as the Alvar Aalto Medal, the Pritzker Prize and the Neutra Medal for Professional Excellence. He's known for using concrete to create simple exteriors and his intricate use of light.

Ando has designed many of the city's landmarks, including the Shanghai Design Center, the Aurora Museum and the Shanghai Poly Grand Theater.

The Pearl Art Museum is the first time Ando has created a multifunctional space in an already constructed mall.

The 76-year-old didn't attend the opening.

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Photos, building models and documentaries are on display to show Japanese architect Tadao Ando's designs. [Photo provided to China Daily]

But he released a statement through Tadao Ando Architect& Associates representative Kazuya Okano expressing gratitude for the landlord's understanding and the workers' courage to complete the project within three years.

Leading is the "twin" exhibition of Endeavor, which was staged at the National Art Center in Tokyo from Sept 27 to Dec 18. The show generated interest in China, too, says Tomoko Onishi, Japan's cultural consul in Shanghai.

"We learned about people visiting Japan especially to see the exhibition. And we were touched by people's enthusiasm for the maestro architect in China," she said at the Shanghai exhibition's opening.

Visitors enter the Pearl Art Museum's exhibition space via a long corridor that uses pictures and bulletins to showcase Ando's life.

The Osaka native was a boxer who was interested in architecture, although he lacked formal training.

The self-taught architect established his own design studio in Osaka in 1968. He has developed a style that places complex spatial arrangements within a minimalist exterior.

"To change the dwelling is to change the city and to reform society," he says.

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Photos, building models and documentaries are on display to show Japanese architect Tadao Ando's designs. [Photo provided to China Daily]

 

This idea is best illustrated through his work on Naoshima, an island in Japan's Seto Inland Sea, where he has finished seven structures, including the Chichu Art Museum that houses masterpieces by such famous artists as James Turrel and Claude Monet. The project is showcased at the exhibition via a large installation that combines video projection with architectural models and manuscripts.

Ando and the landlord, Soichiro Fukutake, have worked together for over three decades to rejuvenate the island, which was once heavily polluted and made barren by sulfuric acid.

Ando's other important works, such as the Church of the Light in Osaka, the Row House-also known as the Azuma House-in Sumiyoshi and his major creations in China, are showcased through pictures and models.

The Pearl Art Museum is connected with a Xinhua Book Store, which is also part of Ando's design. The bookstore is located on the mall's seventh floor, right under the museum. The two spaces are joined by a circular hall with bookshelf-lined walls under a "starlit" arched roof.

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Photos, building models and documentaries are on display to show Japanese architect Tadao Ando's designs. [Photo provided to China Daily]

 

"I've designed quite a lot of museums in my career," Ando said during a visit to the construction site in Shanghai last year.

"But this is the first time I've created a space that combines a museum with a bookstore."

He designed the bookshelves with empty squares in the center. This enables readers to see one another, Shanghai Xinhua Group's president Li Shuang says.

"We hope the beautiful design helps bring people to the world of books, where they can meet with art, culture and other readers."

Che Jianxin, president of Red Star Mecalline Co, The Aegean Place's developer, says the mall receives 50,000 visitors on workdays and up to 200,000 during weekends.

"The new museum brings art close to people," he says.

"You don't have to travel far to experience art."

If you go

Tadao Ando: Leading 10 am-7 pm Sundays-Thursdays; 10 am-10 pm, Fridays-Saturdays, until May 20. Pearl Art Museum, 8F, The Aegean Place, 1588 Wuzhong Road, Minhang district, Shanghai.

Copyright © 2014 Shanghai Municipal Education Commission. All rights reserved.