Hagan Network

ENCOUNTERS OF RESONANT DIVERSITY: Sou Fujimoto and Hitoshi Tanaka.



Artistry and History with Sou Fujimoto and Hitoshi Tanaka at Shiroiya Hotel.

At Shiroiya, these diversities of interpretation provide both tension and balance, as Tanaka committed early to artist collaborations to make it a museum-class hotel. Time was spent installing a wide variety of commissioned works, from internationally renowned names to Gunma-based creators, giving the hotel a rich regional character that respects and resonates together – a whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts. A striking example of this is the soaring atrium, first capturing Tanaka’s imagination as a four-story naked shell where sunlight dappled rawly exposed beams and pillars. Argentine artist Leandro Erlich collaborated with Fujimoto, and “in the spirit of mutual respect between architect and artist, ideas undercut conceptions and brought forth unimaginable new dimensions.” When it was completed, it took even its creators by surprise.

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“Maebashi will have become a real forest of truly resonant diversity. A place where built and natural elements will thrive together in ways we can scarcely imagine today. I think we are seeing the beginnings of that right now.”

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Fujimoto reflects that the “collaboration showed me an unknown side to myself and let me realise a more expansive project than I could have achieved on my own. . . Erlich visited during dismantling and was inspired. . . his work here is both unlike anything of his elsewhere and yet totally in keeping with his own style.” The resulting work, “Lighting Pipes,” brings a visual breadth to the Shiroiya atrium that exceeds what even Fujimoto had envisioned. Gleaming pipes crisscross the atrium, inspired by Italo Calvino’s Invisible City, merging and intersecting with the stairs and terraces to reimagine mundane elements as “veins of an invisible life form.” The juxtaposition of dematerialised pipes of pure light with rough concrete transcends a mere contrast of materials, and the synergy brings the space to a dimension that recalls the past while creating something new for future generations. This line between ancient and new harmonises the work of all commissioned artists, who each visited Maebashi and experienced the atmosphere, after which Tanaka let them “respond freely to the Shiroiya’s atypical stance.”