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Naoshima Hall

Designed by architect Hiroshi Sambuichi and completed in November 2015, Naoshima Hall is a public hall built in the Honmura district for the residents of Naoshima Island. The Naoshima Hall project, places a beautifully nuanced building in Honmura, an old castle town on the island’s eastern edge. It is known to many for its impressive collection of art and architecture – as a part of the Benesse Art Site. It is at once a work of art, an astonishing piece of architecture, and a symbol of Sambuichi’s research into this island’s many ‘flows’.

Naoshima-Hall-By-Hiroshi-Sambuichi-03-Alessio-Guarino-759x569 Naoshima Hall / Hiroshi Sambuichi

© Alessio Guarino

Naoshima Hall, 1,000 sq m structure uses an eco-friendly variation of the traditional irimoya hip-and-gable roof to control airflow, while a 300 sq m community centre is cooled by water pumped through the roof. The spaces were built from materials such as hinoki cypress and handmade washi paper, with quality carpentry, traditional shikkui plastering, earthen walls and stamped floors.

Naoshima-Hall-By-Hiroshi-Sambuichi-05-Shigeo-Ogawa-759x465 Naoshima Hall / Hiroshi Sambuichi

© Shigeo Ogawa

This recently-opened multi-purpose facility will serve as a hub for local residents’ sport and recreation, and activities of local cultural and arts groups. It will also be used as a disaster preparedness center and for ceremonial occasions. Architect Hiroshi Sambuichi spent two and a half years painstakingly researching the movement of wind, water and sun on the island, designing the ideal building for local conditions.

Naoshima-Hall-By-Hiroshi-Sambuichi-06-Shigeo-Ogawa-759x465 Naoshima Hall / Hiroshi Sambuichi

© Shigeo Ogawa

“The large roof of the hall is a traditional hipped shape that is often seen in the villages of Naoshima, This shape is a visualization of the flow of moving materials in Naoshima, and simultaneously produces a pressure differential that causes air to circulate in the hall. A structure that provides protection from rain while allowing breezes to gently pass through, it inherits the principles of the Japanese traditional thatched roof,” – Hiroshi Sambuichi

Naoshima-Hall-By-Hiroshi-Sambuichi-07-Alessio-Guarino-759x569 Naoshima Hall / Hiroshi Sambuichi

© Alessio Guarino

Naoshima-Hall-By-Hiroshi-Sambuichi-10-Alessio-Guarino-748x1000 Naoshima Hall / Hiroshi Sambuichi

© Alessio Guarino

Benesse Art Site Naoshima:

Naoshima hall is a multi-purpose facility, consisting of a main hall, a community center, and a garden. Utilizing the island’s prevailing winds to circulate air inside the hall, the architectural design makes optimal use of the climatic conditions surrounding the structure on the small island of Naoshima.

Naoshima-Hall-By-Hiroshi-Sambuichi-11-Shigeo-Ogawa-759x465 Naoshima Hall / Hiroshi Sambuichi

© Shigeo Ogawa

Naoshima-Hall-By-Hiroshi-Sambuichi-15-Alessio-Guarino-759x569 Naoshima Hall / Hiroshi Sambuichi

© Alessio Guarino

Sambuichi’s creative process is unique: he meticulously researches the environmental features of his building sites and incorporates them into his designs, as demonstrated in another of his works, the Inujima Seirensho Art Museum. In designing Naoshima Hall, the architect spent two and a half years visiting the Honmura district on Naoshima, and surveying its natural surroundings.

Naoshima-Hall-By-Hiroshi-Sambuichi-32-Alessio-Guarino-759x503 Naoshima Hall / Hiroshi Sambuichi

© Alessio Guarino

While researching geographical details throughout the village, Sambuichi came to understand how, for generations, the villagers have lived harmoniously within their natural environment. From the directions of the winds, to how the area’s water resources were deployed (including the flow of water from reservoirs into the rice fields located below; the system of waterways and canals flowing throughout the village; and the locations in which wells were drilled), local residents and the architect have put the area’s natural endowments to work.

Naoshima-Hall-By-Hiroshi-Sambuichi-33-Alessio-Guarino-759x503 Naoshima Hall / Hiroshi Sambuichi

© Alessio Guarino

Naoshima-Hall-By-Hiroshi-Sambuichi-58-Alessio-Guarino-759x503 Naoshima Hall / Hiroshi Sambuichi

© Alessio Guarino

The Honmura district of Naoshima is laid out in the shape of an alluvial fan, expanding from south to north, with the village’s streets laid out in a grid-like pattern. An examination of the floor plans of old houses in Honmura reveals that the wind moves from south to north through the fan-shaped village. Houses face south, towards the center of the fan, and have adjoining rooms traversing from south to north, with verandas on both ends. These houses were built to make best use of the wind currents. In summer, the wind blows from the south. It is cooled down by passing over the surface of water reservoirs and rice fields and flows towards the center of the fan, where it reaches the residential area, and then moves through the rooms of each house into their adjoining gardens, and continues on through to the neighboring parcels.

Naoshima-Hall-By-Hiroshi-Sambuichi-59-Alessio-Guarino-759x503 Naoshima Hall / Hiroshi Sambuichi

© Alessio Guarino

Naoshima-Hall-By-Hiroshi-Sambuichi-60-Alessio-Guarino-759x503 Naoshima Hall / Hiroshi Sambuichi

© Alessio Guarino

It was Sambuichi’s wish to celebrate the town-building process itself as a precious message from the area’s ancestors, and after many attempts, he discovered the angles, shapes and structure his building should take to harness the natural energy of the site without requiring artificial energy. In the main hall, he designed an aperture through the Irimoya hip-and-gable roof so that the predominant southerly winds blowing in Honmura could flow through it. As long as the winds continue to blow across the island, the building will be served by a natural ventilation system, circulating air inside the hall. Sambuichi also recognized the value of the local well water, the temperature of which stays cool all year long, and circulates it up to the roof surfaces of the community center during summer to cool its interior spaces. Nowadays, the wells that once supported the everyday lives of the island’s residents are not used much. It is hoped that people will once again recognize their value.

Naoshima-Hall-By-Hiroshi-Sambuichi-61-Alessio-Guarino-759x503 Naoshima Hall / Hiroshi Sambuichi

© Alessio Guarino

“As a place to reaffirm the values of the island and to encourage local residents to actively reflect on their past and put this wisdom to use in new ways. It is a public hall, but at the same time, it also represents the credo of Benesse Art Site Naoshima of “Using what exists, to create what is to be.” This idea has always probed the relationship between nature and human beings through the lens of art and architecture.”

Naoshima-Hall-By-Hiroshi-Sambuichi-62-Hiroshi-Sambuichi-759x506 Naoshima Hall / Hiroshi Sambuichi

© Hiroshi Sambuichi

Project Data:

Project name: Naoshima Hall
Location: 696-1 (Sonota), Naoshima-cho, Kagawa-gun, Kagawa-ken 761-3110, Japan
Coordinates: 34.459325, 133.995921
Type: Community Centre
Site area: 3,096.06 sqm
Gross floor area: 1272.86 sqm

  • Hall: 933.77  sqm
  • meeting place: 336.05 sqm

Competition Year: 1st prize competition 2009
Project Year/Period: 2009-2014
Construction Period: October 20 – November 20
Status: Built
Cost/Budget: ¥ 864 million
Completion Year: November 2015


  • 2017 – Wallpaper Magazine Design Awards – Category: Best new public building – Winner

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Private

  • Hiroshi Sambuichi – Hiroshima, Japan

Builder / construction: Kajima Corporation
Engineers: Arup
Text Description: © Courtesy of Hiroshi Sambuichi, Benesse Art Site
Images: © Hiroshi Sambuichi, Shigeo OgawaAlessio Guarino, Joanna Kawecki, flickr-Ken Lee


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