Architect Shigeru Ban designed a museum in Aspen, USA, that replicates the experience of skiing for its visitors, amidst the beauty of the surrounding mountains.
The recipient of this year´s Pritzer Prize, Architect Shigeru Ban is known for his path-breaking work with paper, particularly recycled cardboard tubes used to quickly and efficiently house disaster victims. Ban has designed the new Aspen Art Museum in downtown Aspen at Colorado, his first permanent museum building in America.
Surrounded by ski Mountains, the focus of the museum´s design has been to make a building, which can be enjoyed from inside as well as outside, as it stands surrounded by such natural beauty.
For skiing, you have to go to the top of the mountain, enjoy the view and then slide down. The thrill of this sport is recreated in the building design. Ban has provided the entrance foyer on the rooftop that makes the visitor´s entry into the building an exhilarating experience.
To make the descent experience worthwhile, the architect has provided what they call ´The Grand Staircase´ a triple level grand stairway that mediates between the exterior screen and the interior of the building. The 10 ft + 6 ft wide staircase is divided by a glass wall, providing exterior access to the public roof and interior access to all gallery levels. Mobile art platforms inhabit the exterior stairway, thereby bringing a gallery space to the outside. There is also a large, transparent elevator called the ´Moving Room,´ located in the northeast corner of the museum.
Moving through the entrance towards the rooftop foyer, visitors experience a slow, unfolding of vistas with a focus on the mountain view. The rooftop space comprises a Sculpture Garden with breathtaking views of the Ajax Mountain, a cafT, a bar and an outdoor screening space.
The woven fatade
The exterior of the building appears to be like a woven wooden basket with light coming through the openings, casting gorgeous shadows on the main museum stairs, corridor and entry spaces. Made from Prodema, a composite of resin and paper sandwiched inside wood veneer, the wooden screen wraps around the building on the two main fatades. It creates the signature for the building and reveals the structure and gallery spaces beyond. Such a transparent structure would not have been complete without the walkable skylights on the Rooftop Sculpture Garden that simply elevate the experience of the building.
Inside, the architect has included six galleries, a shop, an on-site artists apartment and an education centre. In all, the new design has tripled the exhibition space of the museums previous facility. Now, that says a lot about the mastermind, doesn´t it?
Text: Sumisha Gilotra
photos: Micheal Moran