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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Makino Museum of Plants & People / Architect: Hiroshi Naito

Under the c-shaped overhang which stretches out gracefully
How Hiroshi Naito came to design the building
   This museum is dedicated to Dr. Tomitaro Makino, the plant scientist from Kochi who is often referred to as the “Father of Japanese Botany”. Located in Godaisan, Kochi City, the museum was built within the Makino Botanical Garden, and it is comprised of a main building and an exhibition hall.

   We spoke with Mr. Satomi, a Makino Botanical Garden staff member who handled the exhibition design at the time. Mr. Satomi had worked with Hiroshi Naito before and introduced him to the park manager at the time, saying Mr. Naito is the only architect who matches the general vision of the museum. Having the building designed by Mr. Naito later became a reality after the prefecture made the decision.
Inside the exhibition hall.
The crossbeam and connecting metal parts of the
ceiling are all different shapes and sizes!
 
Matching Godaisan’s natural features
   The elongated overhang in the center garden provides shade and relief from the heat in the summer, and lets visitors directly interact with the plants even on rainy days. It feels very open, and it is great to walk under the overhang!

   There is a pleasant wood aroma once stepping inside the museum, even though it has been about 20 years since being built. It is highly durable because of sound construction. Naito is skilled at wooden construction, and he used plenty of locally-sourced cedar and Japanese cypress in the floors, ceiling, and walls in order to make the building blend into the beautiful Godaisan landscape. The wall in one part of the exhibition hall is finished with Tosa plaster, and deciding on warm subtle colors was done in close collaboration with the craftsmen.
Plant diagram drawn by Dr. Makino himself
 
Upon seeing the doctor’s research…
   As Mr. Naito designed the building, he was inspired when he saw the plant diagrams drawn by the doctor himself. These were elaborately drawn with a writing brush on Japanese paper, and there are close to 2000 pages just in the museum. This museum is the grand sum of numerous discussions and Mr. Naito’s desire to design a building fit to commemorate someone who put the field of botany on the same level as the rest of the world. Not only is this building beautiful on the inside and out, it is representative of the love and respect that Mr. Naito and the staff members have for the doctor.
 
Kochi Prefectural Makino Botanical Garden
   Location: 4200-6 Godaisan, Kochi City
   Facility Hours: 9:00 - 17:00 (closed during year-end holidays)
   Admission: General ¥720 (free for high school age and younger)

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