Kadokawa Culture Museum, Kengo Kuma’s granite monolith

Designer Kengo Kuma and Associates
Project Kadokawa Culture Museum
Year 2020
Location Tokorozawa, Japan
Typology Museum
Materials Granite
Photo Ryosuke Kosuge-Kadokawa Culture Museum-Kenshu Shintsubo

Late 2020 saw the inauguration, near Tokyo, of the Kadokawa Culture Museum, the latest amazing creation by Japanese archistar Kengo Kuma. Located inside the forest surrounding Tokorozawa, a city 30 km from Tokyo in the Saitama Prefecture, the museum consists of a huge monolith 40 meters high in the shape of an irregular polyhedron, with a façade covered entirely in more than 20,000 slabs of grey granite (about 6,000-square meters).

The only apertures of this compact block of stone – which give no hint of the building’s interiors – consist of spacious openings in the body of the building that serve as windows, underscoring the sculptural appearance of the whole.

Inside, the Kadokawa Culture Museum has five floors. On the first is a small library devoted to Japanese manga and a more than 1,000-square meter gallery for exhibits. The second floor houses a bookshop and cafeteria while the third hosts a space devoted entirely to screenings of anime, Japan’s famous animated films.

But the real strong point and fulcrum of the museum is its enormous library room – which recalls a stage set – on the fourth floor, 8 meters high, with floor to ceiling shelves holding some 50,000 books on Japanese history and culture. Finally, the fifth floor hosts more exhibit spaces and an elegant restaurant.