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Waterscape - Memory of Water / Moriyuki Ochiai Architects

From the architect. The following renovation project aimed to transform a botanical garden located near Lake Ashi in the Hakone area, into a museum / a multi-purpose space.

The site is surrounded by a rich natural environment centering around a lake (Lake Ashi) and a mountain (Mt. Hakone). A large banyan tree, a tree emblematic of the botanical garden, used to stand at the centre of the glass dome serving as the entrance to the existing building. In this environment, precipitation(moisture) from the area would percolate through the site's soil and collect around the roots , thus creating a natural spring filled with pristine waters.

For the purpose of the museum renovation project, we were tasked with designing a space inside this entrance that could accommodate a kitchen, a dining space, and a stage for temporary exhibitions and performances, such as concerts and plays.

We envisioned a place that would adapt to the museum's needs by enabling a variety of activities.

First, we poured new concrete over the entire floor and created an octagonal amphitheater at the center of the entrance dome where the banyan tree used to be. A transparent resin was then spread at the bottom of the amphitheater floor to form a spring filled with the profound serenity and mystery surrounding water by acknowledging the memory of the botanical garden's naturally occurring body of water, as well as the Hakone landmark that is Lake Ashi.

The octagonal amphitheater functions as a multi-purpose venue that can be used as seating for dinning, as a central performance area surrounded by tiered seating for concerts or plays, or as a display area for a temporary exhibition. We considered that layering the ever-changing image of the venue's daily configurations over the shimmering movement and changing appearance of water filled with memories would be the best approach for this location.

In the same way that a lake is the accumulation of water droplets brought from various water sources, the transparent resin floor was flooded with elegant and lively elements using different reflective materials, such as mirrors, pieces of glass and fragments of metal, to produce a variety of light shining off the water surface.

Just as changes occur in the flow of water when one stream meets another, the flow of materials blend and interact with each other as individual bundles of light gain momentum and send beautiful ripples traveling across the surface.


The changes created by these reflective materials confer abundant expressivity to the light which glows with the organic vitality of water, thus deepening its poetry while imparting beauty and mystery to the memory of water.

Like the surface of a lake that mirrors the evolving landscape, the changes in natural light, such as that from the morning or evening sun, the seasonal variations in the color of the trees, such as the fresh green leaves of spring or the red autumn leaves, all come together in a signature gradation that spreads throughout the newly built concrete and transparent resin surfaces like a wave of color filled with lively movement.

Furthermore, we applied vivid colors, such as purple and light blue to the steel frame(column and beam) and concrete parts of the dome walls, as if the vibrant colors contained in the lake surface were splashed onto its surroundings, to lend the gloss and freshness of water to the entire space.

The brown walls of the kitchen booth are covered with wood plates shaped like dancing shards of light from the spring. Moreover, the rough grain motif of each of the plates can be perceived as the flow of a waterfall, thus infusing the space with the vitality produced by the resonance between the energy of water, and the trees found in the surrounding mountains. 

By bringing unity to the space and reflecting minute changes in its natural surroundings, this spring of memories spreads the image of water to the entire landscape and creates an environment where one can experience the wonder and mystery of natural phenomena while enhancing the fun and joy derived from human activities.

As the building undergoes a transformation from botanical garden to museum, the world ushered by the memory of the spring becomes engraved in our hearts along with the sparkle of flowing water, and its narrative is spun into the future.

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