d/dt Arch. is currently designing a museum in Karuizawa that showcases a private collection of the works of Léonard Foujita. It is a five-minute walk from Karuizawa station, across the street from Karuizawa Ohga Hall which is one of the most renowned cultural attractions of the area.
To give the establishment an inviting and intimate atmosphere, the outer walls of the museum will be covered with handmade bricks imported from England, where the owner couple used to live. Interior spaces are also designed to give the allure of a private residence as if the visitors were personally invited by the family to see their art collection.
The two-story building is built around a central courtyard. A restaurant, music salon, museum shop, and museum collection storage are housed on the first floor, while the exhibition spaces are on the second floor, ushering the visitors to circulate counterclockwise room after room.
The configuration of the building with a central courtyard is an homage to European monasteries and convents.
Léonard Foujita experienced phenomenal success as a young painter in Paris before World War II. During the war, he returned to Japan and painted war paintings commissioned by the Imperial Japanese Army. Due to these paintings, once the war was over, he was accused of cooperating with war criminals. The accusation led him to leave Japan and stay in France for the rest of his life.
Foujita converted to the Catholic Church in France and dedicated his last years covering the walls of a chapel with religious fresco paintings. After his death, he was interred in the chapel, later to be joined by his wife.
One might assume that Foujita's works and the trajectory of his life reveal his yearning for a gentle motherly caress, desire to be wrapped in the benevolent love of God, which could be interpreted as the fantasy of returning to the womb. The museum's owner Yasushi Ando started collecting Foujita's artwork after purchasing one of his lithographs at a gallery in Karuizawa. Ando says that he found solace in the peacefulness and purity of Foujita's works and they helped him overcome the hardships he was going through at the time.
Thus, the architectural concept and the layout were derived to express Foujita's trajectory, faith, the sense of being gently wrapped around and comforted, not to mention the functionality of a museum circulation.
We aspire to create a place where the visitors could find inner peace and comfort, immersed in the art of Foujita encompassed by the serene nature of Karuizawa.