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Where Japanese architects' ideas resonate

In the heart of Tokyo, a space recounts the ideas of contemporary Japanese architects, from the most established names such as Kengo Kuma and Shigeru Ban to emerging young ones, through highly detailed models that are in themselves small works of art.

by Nanban

As an architecture enthusiast, it is possible that you have come across the following question: where all the models made by architects for clients and competitions go once they serve their purpose?

Perhaps many of them are simply thrown away, some end up in cellars where they begin to rot and fall into pieces until they are no longer recognisable, some of them might be sold or donated to institutions, and others might be well preserved or exhibited somewhere around the studios where they were conceived too.

But, at least in Tokyo, there’s a place just for them.

Its name is almost self-explanatory: Archi-depot. On its white industrial shelving units, five meters high, a plethora of building models by several Japanese architects including Kengo Kuma, Shigeru Ban and many more are displayed and shown to the public, to appreciate not just the projects, but also the incredible amount of detail inserted in each one of them, in pure Japanese style.

From exhibition to exhibition, a forest of over one hundred models of all shapes and sizes, final designs or purely conceptual works, enjoy an ideal environment for their conservation, at regulated temperature and humidity, lit by LED lamps that prevent fading or heat disfigurement, giving the feeling of being in a vault rather than a museum.

Many temporary exhibition have already taken place, giving a more comprehensive glimpse on Japanese contemporary architecture’s current state, and many more will follow, digging in the vast model warehouse behind the museum facade: a real treat and a well deserved homage to those who painstakingly bring the renderings to life, small but precious dreams at a scale.