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Oita Prefectural Art Museum; Oita Prefectural Art Museum;

Oita Prefectural Art Museum, Oita city, Oita

A museum of transparency and flexibility

Opened in 2015, Oita Prefectural Art Museum (OPAM) is another successful collaboration between Shigeru Ban Architects and Arup.  We worked closely to create a museum that promotes various uses and interactions with the community.

Transparent and flexible

The 2-storey high transparent façades at ground level are comprised of bi-folding glass doors which allow visitors to enter freely into the atrium space. This large column-free space acts as a civic space to host various functions, while the upper floor consists of enclosed and controlled exhibition spaces for delicate pieces of artworks. The 14 bi-folding glass doors along 85m on the front façade can be opened up to 6m from the ground. Taking advantage of the mild climate of the region, these bi-folding doors can function during mid-seasons to ease energy consumption for heating, cooling and ventilation.

Project Summary

28.5m Column-free span

6.0mGlass doors open up to

14Bi-folding glass doors

A truly open museum

The column-free gallery space on the ground floor can be open to the outside, semi-open or closed by the floor-height operable walls. It was challenging to control the climate suited for various configurations as artworks need to be protected from heat and humidity.

Create an invisible wall

As a solution, high-performance air curtains were installed to create an invisible wall of jetted air to block the flow of heat and humidity, and dust and insects. CFD analyses and rigorous site tests were conducted to verify the performance of the air curtains to convince the skeptical authorities towards the unconventional scheme.

The 14 bi-folding glass doors ©Hiroyuki Hirai

The prominent seismic base isolation design

With OPAM’s open plan, the museum features tall transparent façades on three sides of the ground floor, leaving the back side as the only side for lateral force resisting structure. This posed an engineering challenge as the eccentric core structure could be detrimental under  severe seismic loads.

Arup overcame the challenge by applying a seismic base isolation system to the building. It substantially reduces seismic responses to offer the highest level of protection to visitors, the building itself and the artworks inside. Because of this high resilience against severe earthquakes, OPAM also serves as a base camp for the local community.

Inspired by bamboo craftwork

The foyer space on the 3rd floor of OPAM gives the impression of the traditional bamboo craftwork of Oita that has been passed down by tradition.
The distinctive timber grid walls of the upper exhibition space are made of structural timber braces and steel columns with laminated timber coverings that act as fire protection.
OPAM realised the highest level of transparency and flexibility, not only with the high skills of engineering but also by making full use of local materials.


JIA Grand Prix 2015
RIBA Awards for International Excellence
LCD Awards 2015 Best Emerging Culture Destination Asia/Pacific Award