This highly unusual commission has brought together two otherwise unconnected facilities: a new "Road Services Station" for a trunk road passing Iwate township in northern Japan and a small gallery for the existing sculpture park on the site.
The site is created by the deposit of a large amount of landfill coming from tunnels constructed for the extension of the Shinkansen bullet train north of Morioka. This landfill is filling in a narrow valley and forming the base of a car park for the adjacent road. The Road Services Station will consist of a restaurant, shop selling local produce, an exhibition about the local area and an ice cream and noodle bar, as well as substantial WC facilities for travellers. We have elected to make a three sided "market square" for these facilities distributed under a unifying canopy. In one of the two corners a pedestrian route connects to Iwate itself and the other corner a route takes visitors to the gallery and sculpture park. This is set at a higher level on an existing larch wooded hillside with a ramped access making a promenade between the two facilities, and allowing the visitors to change their mood as they move from one to the other.
The gallery itself is a simple mono-pitched building against the larch wood, with a generous north light so that the presence of the trees on the hillside is always part of the experience of the gallery. The arrival space is an open roofed area, giving access to a small cafe, the gallery and public meeting room, and also being the point at which tickets can be dispensed for a visit to the existing sculpture park in the forest. A view of Iwate, the local dominant volcano landmark is possible from the end of the gallery.
The Iwate Gallery and Road Services Station is designed in conjunction with Wakamatsu & Roppongi, Architects, Japan.