The tranquility and light of the poems of the Kimber Art Museum

“Inspiration is a feeling for the beginning, like a threshold, where quietness and light meet. Quietness, unmeasurable, the desire for existence, the source of new needs, encounters with light; measurable, the donor of physical objects , Is in the measurement of natural law and will, creation. The threshold of intersection is inspiration, the temple of art, the treasure house of shadows. ”

-Louis Kang

In Fort Worth, Texas, the “place where the west begins”, people seem to be equated with cowboys, wild, and rough. As everyone knows, this not-so-famous city is not just a vast grassland cattle farm. When you leave the hustle and bustle of the city center and meet the Kimber Art Museum in the Western Cultural Park, you will sigh in your heart that only Louis Kang can consolidate the hot and intense sunshine of Texas into a treasure. Stepping into the museum, in the quiet light, seeing your figure, the next second is eternity.

“Light” Tribute
“The Kimber Art Museum is Kang’s tribute to ‘light. The material emits light, real light, this light will emit itself, and the form of the house is used to let visitors and paintings meet in the light of nature.”

——John Robert

The Kimber Art Museum was built in 1972 in an empty and beautiful park. The exterior is a bit steep. The exterior image of the building is treated with demureness and simplicity. It can be seen from a distance. Its serious personality will give people a rigid impression. Designing an art gallery for the Kimbers ’art collection in the relatively large urban fabric of Fort Worth ’s 3.8-hectare Western Cultural District, architect Louis I. Kahn has more opportunities Think more purely. For this exhibition place with the theme of Renaissance art, Kang felt that the Kimber Art Museum should be created as a place where people can feel pure in spirit.

Louis Kang has always believed that light is a language for dialogue between the human world and the divine realm, and it is a field where humanity and divinity manifest themselves together. “Natural light is the only light that can make architecture an architectural art.” When works of art are appreciated in a natural light environment, the space can achieve a kind of “human-art-nature” integration and promotion of each other. Environmental effects. Therefore, Kang incorporated the philosophy he pursued throughout his life into the design thinking of the Kimber Art Museum. After 6 years of concept polishing, the Kimber Art Museum has almost perfectly realized the seamless integration of natural light and architectural interfaces, exuding the warmth, tranquility and long-lasting artistic charm of “golden dust”. Its unique light and beautiful shape have conquered almost all viewers and public opinion. Kenneth Frampton rated it as the pinnacle of Kang’s architectural career. Kang himself was also quite satisfied, and told those closest to him that this was his favorite work. Perhaps this is also the most powerful annotation that Kang seeks in his life to “quiet”, cross the threshold of “shadow”, and move toward “brightness”.

The Kimber Museum of Art, from the initial consideration and response to the final expression and presentation, as John Robert said, is indeed a gift of Kang to “light”. At the beginning of the project, Dr. Richard Brown, the curator of the museum as the owner, put forward the concept of creating a psychological connection between visitors and artworks through natural light, and gave the art spirit of the museum the same clear function This desire coincides with Kang’s idea of ​​”design space is bright design”. Kang is unacceptable to light directly on the wall by the side of the hole, not only occupying the valuable wall surface, but also causing glare and interference. In fact, from the beginning of the design, it was determined that only natural light from the top can be captured by the skylight.

Natural light diffuses into the Kimber Art Museum from the top of the building, the courtyard and the gap between the vault and the wall. The light is soft and not dazzling, while maintaining elegance and dignity, it is light and transparent.

“Light is necessary, but it is also an enemy.” In order to prevent the artwork from being damaged by the intense sunlight in Texas, Louis Kang designed a skylight lighting system to replace the artificial lighting commonly used in museums. This system consists of three parts: a strip-shaped skylight, a herringbone reflector, and a cycloidal diffuse vault, each of which plays a different role, and together achieves effective control of the unpredictable natural light: the strip-shaped skylight introduces light A layer of screen is added to filter out the ultraviolet rays in the direct light; the filtered light is reflected twice by the herringbone plate under the skylight and the cycloidal vault, the intensity is greatly reduced, and the museum is softly covered with In every corner, the spectrum also turned silver. The building is open to the sky, and the top surface is used as a reflective light source to provide uniform natural light illumination for the space. This is Kang’s wonderful use of light. Even today, more than 40 years later, this lighting system is also the most advanced example.

The garden lighting technique used by the Kimber Art Museum is also fascinating. The two inner courtyards are outdoor sculpture display venues and one of the main sources of natural light. Kang refers to the natural light brought into the aluminum reflector as “silver light” and the light entering from the atrium as “green light”. In the ground floor half buried, the two-storey inner courtyard brings indirect natural light to the people working in the restoration room. It is located 2.4 meters between the building on the west side of the museum and the outdoor corridor. The lighting well provides natural light for offices and studios without lighting.

In the empty and beautiful park, the elegant arched barrel-shaped buildings of the Kimber Art Museum are arranged and connected, and the rolling roof shows a strict geometric order, such as a peaceful and solemn poem, exuding a rustic classicism. .

The shaping of “shape”
“The so-called room is a place that shows its own structure and construction method under the influence of light. This means that a square should be a clear square; a rectangle should be an unambiguous rectangle. Because the structure is light Grantor, that ’s why these pillars are so beautiful. These pillars are really the grantors of light, which is why Kimber insists on the inseparability between natural light and building a house and both of them. ”

-Louis Kang

Louis Kang was once hailed as “the poetry and philosophy of architecture”. He is passionate about theoretical research and is a scholar who pursues the essence of truth. His thoughts are full of power because of the influence of German classical philosophy and rationalism, but his architectural theory is profound. Obscure and puzzling. To put it simply, “light” can be regarded as the core of Kang’s architectural language and his understanding of architectural poetry. Poetry reveals the essence of truth.

We looked at the appearance and structure of the Kimber Art Museum from the outside. At a glance, the building is not grand and exquisite, but simple and rough. It is very similar to the huge warehouses on the Texas ground. At first glance, it is not at all related to art. Above. It consists of 16 continuous parallel linear series of vaulted building units, with concrete channels between the vaults, in which heating and cooling equipment are hidden. This is a “suitable room” conceived by Louis Kang. Natural light determines the shape of the “room” should be: arched. In fact, the design plan of the museum has undergone a total of four rounds of adjustment, namely the “square plane” in spring 1967, the “rectangular plane” in June of the same year, the “H-shaped plane” in August 1968, and the final The “C-shaped plane” proposed in the summer of 1969. Kang’s earliest idea of ​​the roof of this arched space was a relatively simple semi-circle, but the director of the museum, Brown, believed that the enclosed space was too high and was not suitable for the display of artworks. A flat top with curved edges, but this solution is also not ideal. Project architect Marshall Meyers proposed the use of cycloid (cycloid, a trajectory formed by a certain point on the boundary of a circle when a circle moves along a straight line) as the geometric basis of the arch’s arc. The height is only 6 meters, which effectively weakens the towering sense of the original gallery space, and the proportion of the whole space is more spacious and pleasant. Engineer Auguste Comandant proposed a thin shell for this cycloidal vault structure. The 12.7 cm thick cast-in-place concrete shell can be effectively supported by using four 60 cm square concrete columns at both ends of the vault. Where solid walls are required on the short sides under the cycloidal vaults, Kang uses glass to deal with the joints between the concrete beams and the unloaded solid walls. The narrow glass gaps of different widths do not introduce direct natural light. , But for viewers in a gallery with no windows, it provides another interface with the sky.

The architects’ proposals coincided with Kang’s preference for building materials. Kang exposed the concrete columns and the thin-shelled vault structure, while the non-bearing walls used Roman gray stone and glass panels to meet the lighting requirements of different spaces and locations. There is no strong contrast between the gray stone and the glass panel and the concrete. The texture of the space formed is almost the same, and the texture is mixed into one. In doing so, Kang also revealed a rational philosophy of the spatial structure: the heavy materials (concrete and gray stone) are repeatedly arranged and combined in a strict geometric order (circular arc vault), like a poetry rhythm With the rhythmic sense of rhythm, with the accumulation of time and the environment, the material can reveal a temperament with a strong “classical modern sense” and increase the “serious eternity” of the museum.

The “Lenzo Piano Pavilion”, completed in 2013, realized the dialogue with the old Kimber Pavilion in a light and open manner, not only expressing respect for Louis Kang, but also realizing the freedom of construction.

Dialogue between “new” and “old”
40 years after the completion of the Kimber Art Museum designed by Louis Kang, in 2013, the new Kimber Art Museum designed by Renzo Piano, who won the Pritzker Architecture Prize, was also completed in the same park. It is named “Renzo Piano Pavilion” after the designer’s name and it is only a few steps away from the old pavilion. In recent years, the functions and collections of the Kimber Art Museum have grown at a dramatic rate, far exceeding the scale envisioned by the museum in the 1970s. Considering the serious lack of space for exhibition and educational functions of the museum, the new Renzo Piano Pavilion provides gallery space for temporary exhibitions, classrooms and studios in the education department of the museum, and a large 298-seat auditorium , An enlarged library and underground parking space. The expansion almost doubled the museum’s gallery space.

Piano had studied under Louis Kang, so that people were full of doubts about his taking over the project: the masterpiece of architectural poetry and philosophy can not be crossed, nor can it be crossed! However, Piano strives to achieve a delicate balance between respecting the great architecture and adhering to his architectural beliefs. With his respect for Kang, he designed a civilized dialogue about the times between the two buildings. In the design, Piano spent most of his energy on fine-tuning the relationship between the new and old pavilions. In the new plan, the new and old pavilions face to face are separated by a shallow pool. Most visitors will go to the entrance of the new pavilion from the new parking lot located under this pool. In order to pay tribute to Kang, Piano designed both the stairs and the elevator to face east, so when you reach the ground, the first thing you will see is the arched entrance of the old pavilion. From there, you can turn around and enter the new pavilion, or you can circumvent the pool ceremonially for a week to enter the old pavilion. Although the height, scale and overall layout are cleverly echoed in the old hall of Louis Kang, Piano’s new building shows a more open and transparent feature. The entire building operation is light and rigorous (half of the building volume is hidden in the ground), but shows a unique character, so that the dialogue between the new and the old is successfully constructed.

Compared with the quietness and heavyness of the old pavilion, the design of the new pavilion is light and elegant. From the perspective of visual perception, the old pavilion and the new pavilion reflect the difference between the sense of gravity and the sense of floating, which is completely pursued by Piano. He achieved two levels of visual perception and physical meaning through completely different construction strategies and methods. “Light” freedom. When discussing architecture from a visual perspective, Kang ’s continuous cycloid vault makes the entire building “horizontal” and stable, with a strong sense of downward direction. In addition, heavy materials such as concrete are more in line with Kang ’s attempt to integrate modernization With the dual goal of commemoration, it is easier to show his cross-historical spirit; and because of the “floating” roof design of Piano’s new pavilion, the entire building is lighter and almost weightless.

In terms of light design, although Kang and Piano both emphasize the poetic expression of natural light, the light and shadow effects presented by the new and old pavilions are quite different. The light in the old pavilion is quiet, mysterious, and introverted; the light in the new pavilion is bright, soft, and extroverted. In the light design of the old museum, Kang achieved commemoration through three light effects of light domain, light belt and light beam. The light shines on the gray stone partition wall to form a bright light and shadow relationship, and the shadows of arcs and triangles change at any time. The premise of all these light effects is to use the interface closure as much as possible to create a “dark tone”. This is Kang once mentioned the philosophical concept of “white light and black shadow” in the dialogue with students . The old is different from the quietness and mystery of the light in the old museum. It is difficult to feel the dramatic light and shadow relationship in the new museum. The light appears more modern and bright. “Soft light and weak image” is perhaps the most appropriate description of this light effect.

Non-transparency and transparency are another difference between the old and new pavilions. Most of the buildings in the old pavilion are composed of opaque travertine-filled walls and concrete walls, and the new pavilion chose glass walls for a large proportion. The new pavilion eliminates the visual limitations of some building envelopes, blurs the indoor and outdoor spaces, and shows the openness of the building. This reflects the architect ’s creative intention: “The Old Kimber Art Museum was designed by Louis Kahn. I like this building very much, but this building is too closed. So what we did is the opposite, the new museum design is open It is participatory and transparent. “Here in Piano, people can feel the welcome attitude of the museum, and the people inside the museum also have the right to communicate with the outdoor nature. Piano attaches great importance to natural and human landscapes, and dispatches all these elements through transparency to serve the new museum and serve people.

As one of Kang ’s most successful and prestigious architectural works, the Kimber Art Museum has no place in the history of architecture. The quiet, eternal, rigorous geometric order and construction logic can be called the classics of modern architecture. The architectural philosophy has also been widely discussed and recognized. Piano did not stick to a specific architectural form language in the construction of the new museum. What he insisted on was the creative idea of ​​the combination of architectural rationalism, technology and art. With such a concept, Piano realized the pursuit of lightness, transparency and light and shadow, and finally formed the construction form of the new museum. We can see not only the new museum’s respect for the old museum, but also the new museum’s targeted freedom of construction.