The Stunning Results of Merging Art With Nature

In Japan's Niigata Prefecture, a Chinese architectural design firm transforms the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel from historic lookout to modern work of art.
Tuesday 14 August 2018
Insta-worthy: The 'Light Cave' portion of the tunnel is picturesque and filled with endless Instagram opportunities. Photo: AFP

Nestled in the mountainous terrain of the Niigata prefecture in Japan is Echigo-Tsumari, an art triennale that merges art with nature. Visitors are treated to art structures that perfectly meld with nature and litter the breathtakingly beautiful landscape of this land.

This area is also home to the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel – a historic 750 metre passageway that cuts through rock formations and offers panoramic views over one of Japan’s three great chasms.

Tasked with restoring the lookout, MAD Architects transformed it into a ‘Tunnel of Light’ with sections drawing on the five elements of nature – wood, earth, metal, fire and water.

“The designs rethink the relationship between humans and nature and seek to re-connect locals and visitors alike with the majestic beauty of the land,” said MAD.

Embodying the element of wood is a wooden hut that serves as a cafe and souvenir shop, with a pitched cedar roof topping a hot spring foot spa and the ‘Periscope’ – a circular aperture made of mirrored lenses – reflecting the surrounding nature inwards.

MAD ECHIGO 3 - art
The ‘Periscope’ portion is tranquil and calm, filled with cedar and light.

Different-coloured lights illuminate the ‘earth’ of the newly renovated passageway and along with mysterious music, help create the site’s ambience.

Metal is spotlighted in the ‘Invisible Bubble’, the first lookout point, a capsule-like structure with an exterior window covered in metallic film that allows only for one-way viewing from the inside out.

The second lookout point, ‘The Drop’ evokes fire with its series of reflective, glowing ‘dewdrops’ made of convex mirrors back-lit by fiery, red light and scattered along the curvature of the tunnel.

The ‘Drop’ is like a cool flame, subtle and minimalistic.

Lastly comes the ‘Light Cave,’ where the element of water is central. Here, semi-polished stainless steel lines the tunnel, bringing the landscape of rocks, greenery and turquoise water into the space, while a shallow pool of water reflects the image of the gorge outside.

The Echigo-Tsumari Triennale runs until 17 September.

Source: AFP Relaxnews

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