Japanese contemporary artist Kohei Nawa collaborated with art studio SANDWICH to create the ship-like KOHTEI art pavilion. The wooden building is nestled into the grounds of the Shinshoji Zen Museum and Gardens in Fukuyama-city, Japan as a quiet space for peaceful contemplation that seems to float above the ground. It was built using traditional Japanese techniques and materials – including bamboo nails and thousands of thin wood panels.
The new pavilion is part of the Tenshinzan Shinshoji temple, which was built by the eponymous shipbuilding company as a respectful location to console the spirit of those who perish at sea. The building is clad in Japanese cypress and hovers over a rocky landscape, surrounded by greenery.
The “floating” roof design was created using the Kokera-buki technique, a traditional roofing craft that uses bamboo nails to connect multiple layers of thin wood panels as shingles. In fact, to create the KOHTEI roof, a whopping 340,000 pieces were laid by a roofing master based in Kyoto. The underlayer of the roof, the soffit, is comprised of 250,000 pieces of wooden cypress tiles. The result is a monolithic structure that – despite its abundance of sturdy wooden planks – appears to be light as a feather.
Visitors to the pavilion are encouraged to walk through the building, exploring its expansive views. The flooring of the pavilion is made of large, smooth stones that represent the smoothness of the ocean. A walking path leads up to the building and weaves under the structure and out through the surrounding landscape.
The path gradually leads into the interior of the structure through a small entrance of the vessel-like roof. Inside, a dark room with a water installation is barely illuminated by candlelight. According to the artist, the installation represents the immensity of the ocean and is designed to provide visitors with an opportunity to contemplate the sensibility and philosophy of Zen.