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The Nomadic Museum
An Arche of Paper
Jacques Martin, September 9, 2006
Shigeru Ban’s masterpiece

Something between a cathedral and a vault, Shigeru Ban’s nomadic museum is a vast steel carcass measuring 235 meters long by 24 wide. It is constructed by stacking over 148  shipping containers, in checkerboard fashion,  to produce as large a vessel as possible. Each remaining opening is covered on the diagonal with a PVC sheet, which allows for both light and ventilation. A simple peaked roof, also of PVC covers the entire structure. Inside, 64 recycled cardboard columns are spaced 6 meters apart to recreate the Arsenal’s colonnade. This skeleton and its shell can be dismantled, repacked or recycled at the closing of the event.

"You will likely be overwhelmed, as if you were entering a cathedral" explains Shigeru Ban. "But you will gradually be drawn to Gregory’s work that is laid out between the columns, and the space will become nothing more than the background. It’s like being absorbed in a prayer in a cathedral and forgetting the grandeur of the space that surrounds you".

An impressive handmade curtain, suspended from the ceiling, made from one million used paper tea bags, filters the light and emits a sepia tone throughout.

The most surprising fact of this structure, is that the whole exhibit moves in only forty containers, while each host city supplies the other 100 to complete the structure: simple and efficient. Even though the use of containers in architecture is not new, it is usually for space efficiency and not for structural purposes. This is what makes this museum so innovative.

The Nomadic Museum proves that man and animal can co-exist, as can art and architecture.

P. Michael Moran
P. Michael Moran
 
www.ashesandsnow.org

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