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10 Sep 2019
Kengo Kuma-designed Odunpazari museum opens in Turkey
By Andy Knaggs
Kengo Kuma-designed Odunpazari museum opens in Turkey
Kengo Kuma's Odunpazari Modern Museum is designed to complement the surrounding Ottoman housing
Photo: NAARO
Kengo Kuma's latest creation – the Odunpazari Modern Museum in Eskisehir, Turkey – has opened, with the architect striving to create a sense of intimacy and warmth through its wood-clad buildings.

The inspiration for Kuma's design, which is based on a cluster of boxes clad with stacked, interlocking timber beams, comes from the history of the location, which used to be a centre for timber trading. The word odunpazari means firewood market in Turkish.

Built to house the 1,000-piece modern art collection of Erol Tabanca, an architect and chair of Turkish contractor Polimeks, the blocks of the 4,500sq metre (14,760sq ft) museum are rotated and arranged so as to complement the surrounding streetscape of Ottoman houses.

Containing a café and a shop, the museum buildings are designed to provide smaller, more intimate spaces on the lower floors, with large, open galleries for events and exhibitions on upper floors.

At the centre of the building, where four of the stacked blocks meet, there's a skylit atrium that stretches the full height of the three-storey building. Kuma said his intention with the museum building was to create a sense of intimacy and warmth by using small-scale units, wood and natural light.

"Throughout the building, the geometry is not perpendicular," he said. "I think the fact that such a geometrical building can also be as organic will surprise people."

To mark the opening of the museum, digital art collective Marshmallow Laser Feast has installed two immersive exhibitions, which will run until December 2019. These installations – titled Treehugger and In The Eyes of the Animal – combine VR with aerial, 360-degree drone filming, taking visitors through a digital forest.

Viewers can embody various creatures as they fly above the trees in In The Eyes of the Animal, while Treehugger documents rare and endangered trees. Marshmallow Laser Feast said the installations were intended to convey an important environmental message: that the protection and restoration of the environment are crucial to the future of humanity.

The first exhibitions at the museum also include a large-scale installation by Japanese bamboo artist Tanabe Chikuunsai IV, made from woven bamboo, which will be in situ for a year.

Kengo Kuma's recent work has included the V&A in Dundee, and the new Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.

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