view of glass art display space, Tittot Glass Art Museum, Taipei, Taiwan by OBRA Architects
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Tittot Glass Art Museum

Taipei, Taiwan
September 2004

The Tittot Glass Art Museum is a narration in space of the story of Tittot and the universal significance of glass art. The construction of the museum is an important moment defining Tittot in the collective imagination as a crucial presence in the international glass art community. The project finds its narrative substance in the very ethos of Glass Art, coalescing as another recognizable attribute of Tittot, Taipei and Taiwan while capturing the deep and enduring potential of the institution's cultural significance.

Glass and Architecture share a capacity to capture light in space. In glass such capacity is experienced with the exacting purity of an arrested liquid, wrapping itself in diaphanous diffraction and translucent reflections that suggest multidimensional mysteries of space.

In the Tittot Museum, sunlight entering through circular openings on the roof of the building push light wells deep into the structure reaching every exhibition space. Contained within etched cylindrical glass lanterns, these shafts of light define the interior spaces of exhibition and when intersected by an exterior wall reveal fractures where the force of the light pushing to enter, seems to bend the glass into the building. Like air bubbles trapped in a cast of glass, the lanterns sparkle with captured light through the spaces of the galleries implanting guiding markers in the journeys through the exhibits.

Upon entering the museum, the tall space of the Lobby mediates between city and Art, acting as a prologue to collections and exhibits. Surrounded by the museum Gift Shop, the Restaurant and Café, the Banquet Space / Fashion Gallery and by the Auditorium and Demonstration Areas, this suite of spaces will function as a building within a building, providing the capability of staying open late into the night while the galleries are closed. In Taipei, famed for its late night vitality, such arrangement promises to forge a strong link between the life of the museum and the life of the city.

These wells of light, with diameters between 5 and 12 meters, compress and dilate the space surrounding them into galleries of different sizes, allowing the optimal exhibition of works with very different space requirements. The museum then becomes the ideal environment for the exhibit of works of very different characteristics, from the exquisitely detailed pieces in Tittot's own collection, to casts by Stanislav Libensky & Jaroslava Brychtova or suspended blown chandeliers by Dale Chihuly. Defining continuity of sequence that evokes thematic connections, a fluid journey through the galleries is effected through a series of gentle ramps. This permits for the adequate presentation of individual pieces while allowing the overall experience of the entire collection, providing depth to the appreciation of beauty within precisely defined rooms that yet, have no beginning and no end.

The broad footprint of the building intermittently pierced by the descending shafts of light will allow a wide range of curatorial freedom, ensuring the open ended flexibility to adjust the exhibits to future changes in the collection or the periodical cycle of exhibition of pieces in museum storage.

The journey's end is marked by the arrival at the top-level gallery. Suspended over a large void of exterior space, and with light entering through cast glass lenses inserted in the floor slab, this will be a dramatic space of reversed shadows. When hollow supports are used, the exhibited pieces can be made to glow with a light that emanates from the density of their own interior matter.

To the North of the building under the protection of the suspended gallery an elevated plaza acts as expansion space for the museum's restaurant and café. Rising four meters above street level and connected to the sidewalks through gently sloping ramps, this plaza will become a destination for al-fresco dining with views of the park above the surrounding traffic. In the evenings, an etched cast glass wall projects the velvety glow of the museum lights into the void created between the plaza below and the suspended gallery above, shining on the city, the beacon of Tittot's urban lantern.