Kiro-San Observatory | Kengo Kuma and Associates
© Mitsumasa Fujitsuka

Japan 1994Kiro-San Observatory


This project focused on anti-disposition of objects in the nature. Kiro-san Observatory appears as a single narrow slit inside the hillside. This has reversed the concept that is imbedded to our daily life that any observation platforms typically expose their presence by simply standing amidst the natural environment.

The hilltop that was previously sliced horizontally for a function of observatory - park is restored to its original form by re-filling. Then, the narrow slit is recreated, this time buried into the ground. The slit is thus all that is visible from the outside, and visitors begin and end their journey from this slit. The visitors broaden their view of the environment through the slit which also frames the view. The aim here is to transfer the fundamental concept of an extruded object into an intruded slit: What was previously seen is now reversed to act of seeing.

Inside the observatory, a few video monitors are installed. As one looks into the monitor, he/she finds the self inside the screen monitored by a camera of unknown location. This device forces one to recognize the fact that to see is to be seen, and vice versa. An observatory was first invented to actualize the privilege of viewing the world through specified objects, lenses. However, to see is to be seen; to view is to be viewed. As an experiment of reversing what an object does and has done to the space and environment, the project continuously challenges the concept already imbedded to our daily life.

Team Shoji Oshio Award 第7回公共建築賞優秀賞, Grand Prize for JCD Design Award 1995 Cultural / Public Institutions Publication Brutus 2022/02/15 No.955 , JA : The Japan Architect 2016/Spring 101 , JA : The Japan Architect 1995-03/Autumn No.19 , JA : The Japan Architect 1995-03/Autumn No.19 , Nikkei Architecture 1994/11/07 , GA JAPAN 11 , Shinkenchiku 1994/11 , GA JAPAN 1993/Autumn 005 , GA JAPAN 01 Photography ©︎ Mitsumasa Fujitsuka