KUA*, formally known as Kyoto College of Art, was founded in 1977. The old “Boutenkan”** was the original headquarters in the main campus of the old College, and this new architecture is, in fact, situated in the same location. The old alumni remember clearly, the impressive three-storied building with brown brick exterior that once stood there.
When the College was first opened, the old “Boutenkan” was used as the headquarters mainly by the administration body. But they moved to another building of classrooms as time went on, to be among classrooms. Now, this new building was aimed to be the core center of the current University: first to rebuild “Boutenkan” as the headquarters facility: and second, its well-planned plaza on the rooftop to serve as a focal place for the students to enjoy.
The old “Boutenkan” was built on a retaining wall just short of 10 meters high, and located in the center of the campus, which extended to the slope at the foot of Uryu Mountain, one of the 36 mountains forming the Kyoto Higashiyama mountain range.***
The new plan was precisely, to transform this retaining wall as an architecture with its rooftop turned into an aerial garden. This sky garden thus connected the second floor of the campus building to the south and the rooftop of the gallery building to the north. At the same time, a new plaza was to be created on the green slope of the campus site. On top of that, the major objective was to connect the vertical human flow, which had been disconnected before by the old retaining wall.
Basically, this new building has three floors under ground and one floor above. The approach from below is designed to lead up to the maximum space possible, wide open to the sky, by setting back the top floor of the building. In addition, the top floor of the gallery building is revived as a wide open space, and at the same time, is connected one floor up to the rooftop plaza with a staircase and a waterfall. The rooftop plaza is now an aerial garden of extensive, horizontal dimension which never existed before in this campus.
Furthermore, the steps leading from the lower floors up to the higher floors are placed along the vertical wall, connecting the 4 floors of interior spaces, and is made of the brown brick tiles, so closely reminiscent of those of the old “Boutenkan”. This one, direct staircase leads with unobstructed upward view, to experience the brick façade and the presence of the soaring retaining wall, which are, of course, the two elements to be remembered from the old ”Boutenkan” in this exact location.
* KUA – Kyoto University of the Arts
** Boutenkan – 望天館 meaning “sky view hall”
*** Kyoto Higashiyama mountain range – eastern mountain range of Kyoto