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Temporary Tokyo Guggenheim Exhibition

  • Tokyo, Japan
  • Guggenheim, Tokyo
  • 116m2

Odaiba Island was an ideal location for the Guggenheim’s temporary museum, as the place itself was experimental – part of Tokyo’s metropolis, built on synthetic land and brought into being by the forceful, entrepreneurial spirit of rapid development. The ten-year intervention of the Guggenheim was to be as a catalyst for further cultural initiatives, which would help to shape the architectural identity of the area.

In response to the temporary nature of the structure, the studio proposed a lightweight envelope, created from two folded planes, which lean against each other like sheets of paper to enclose a generous central volume – an elegant solution to the need for a versatile space to accommodate changing exhibitions. Although the spatial concept is extremely simple – in effect the parallel extrusion of three simple sections – the size, level of abstraction and dynamic profile of the folded planes produces an impressive hall. The diagonal cleft at the top lends a sense of drama, as light washes down the tilted plane. A third extruded section provides a mezzanine level, with support functions below and a large, raised exhibition venue above with views over the whole space. The three extrusions are then cut at both ends, at different angles, to signal the entrance and termination of the elevation.

The building’s surface is like snakeskin, made up of an array of pixels that can integrate different textures and performances. The smooth surfaces and brilliant colours of the large-scale ceramic tile cladding are interspersed with light-boxes, allowing daylight to penetrate the space and providing an artificial source of light at night. The skin also integrates photo-voltaic elements and a large media screen made up of a honeycomb of ‘smart slabs’, camouflaged in the pixilation of the façade. Internally, the effect is more subtle, as light, ventilation and heating systems follow the contours of the pavilion’s structure.




Zaha Hadid

Project Architect

Patrik Schumacher

Design Team

Gianluca Racana, Ken Bostock, Vivek V. Shankar


Adams - Kara - Taylor, London

Services and Lighting


Material Engineer

Tom Barker, London