The Benesse House is a complex designed by renowned architect Tadao Ando in 1992 for the full immersive experience of art and the landscape. Located on the island of Naoshima in Japan, it now consists of multiple buildings which have been added over the years. The original structure was the Museum, then the Oval was opened in 1995, the Park, the Beach, the Chichu Art Museum, and the Lee Ufan Museum were added. All buildings were designed by Ando, and are intended to blend into their surroundings more and more as the years go by! They include gallery and exhibition spaces, lodging, accommodations and restaurants, all completely surrounded by nature and art!
Tadao Ando displayed his genius in the driving concept behind these buildings. He wanted this not just to be a visual experience, but a totally immersive one, and he used the architecture to accomplish this. The use of light and shadow through apertures opens the interior to the environment and creates a connection that allows for introspection. Throughout the complex there are long ramps, stairs and passageways that are used in order to prolong the procession through the grounds and the art in order to heighten the awareness of visitors, not just on a mental level but on a physical one as well.
The Oval is the most recognizable of the four structures, with its central courtyard with the massive pool surrounded by a portico over which the roof garden hangs over and becomes a sunken grotto almost. Surrounding the courtyard are the rooms and other spaces that make up the hotel. This complex is even more fascinating because of its focus on fine art, which is one that we appreciate on a daily basis here in our office!
At Benesse House, the focus is on contemporary art and includes a number of permanent site specific installations throughout the grounds and in the buildings themselves. Within the buildings, you will also find examples of painting, photography, and sculpture. What an incredible way to engage art and feel the connection between art, nature and mankind!