An architectural model is an important part of an architect’s planning stage because it is the physical representation of a structure. Instead of just looking at a blueprint or a sketch, an architectural model provides a 3D perspective to an architectural design. This way, the architect can communicate his or her design ideas to the workers of a particular project or to clients, albeit in a miniature scale.
Despite this usefulness of architectural models, they are often just a means to an end and are kept in storage right after the actual structure of the model is constructed. However, on June 18, 2016, Japan celebrated the uniqueness and artistry of architectural models by opening the first ever museum dedicated to miniature architectural models. This museum is called ARCHI-DEPOT which is a play on the words “architecture” and “depot” meaning warehouse.
Just like its name, ARCHI-DEPOT aims to not only exhibit the architectural models present in the place, but to also preserve them so that the next generation can view and appreciate their significance as well. For this purpose, it is only fitting that the location of the museum is operated by Warehouse TERRADA, a company that specializes in the storage of valuables like art and wine. The message that the organizers of the museum are trying to send out is that architectural models are valuable art and must be treated as such.
Boasting a 450 square m (4,840 square ft) space, ARCHI-DEPOT is filled with a total of 116 shelves that will permanently house a huge variety of architecture models from architectural experts and legends like Kengo Kuma, Jun Aoki, and Shigeru Ban, as well as younger generations of architects like Wonderwall and Torafu. People can find ARCHI-DEPOT on Tennozu Isle in Higashi Shinagawa, Tokyo, a redeveloped area now known as an isle with “art and heart.”
The good thing about ARCHI-DEPOT is that the space itself is simple and minimalist to further emphasize the uniqueness of the designs. Moreover, each model does not have its information occupying extra space in the museum. Instead, people can scan the models’ QR codes with their smartphones to see further information about the model such as its structure date.
Because the museum has an accumulation of Japanese architectural models and the location is near Haneda Airport, ARCHI-DEPOT organizers are hoping that students and fans of architecture from all over the world could come and see what the Japanese architecture can offer. For further information, they also have a website that can be viewed either in Japanese or in English which is really convenient.
It is certainly interesting to see the miniature models up close, so if you have time to visit Tennozu Isle, why not enjoy the artistry of Japanese architecture by heading out to ARCHI-DEPOT?
Open hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM (admission until 8:00 PM)
Admission: Adult 1,000 yen / High school student and under 18 500 yen
Location: Warehouse TERRADA Main Storage Center, 1F 2-6-10, Higashi-Shinagawa, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo
Access: 5-minute walk from Tokyo Monorail Tennozu Isle Station / 4-minute walk from Rinkai Line Tennozu Isle Station / 15-minute walk from JR Shinagawa Station (Konan Exit)