Architecture

Lookout tunnel becomes a tube of underground art installations in Japan

Lookout tunnel becomes a tube ...
The Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel was renovated by MAD Architects as part of the 2018 Echigo-Tsumari Triennale 
The Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel was renovated by MAD Architects as part of the 2018 Echigo-Tsumari Triennale 
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The Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel serves as an avenue for spectacular vantage points of Japan’s magnificent Kiyotsu Gorge
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The Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel serves as an avenue for spectacular vantage points of Japan’s magnificent Kiyotsu Gorge
The Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel was renovated by MAD Architects as part of the 2018 Echigo-Tsumari Triennale 
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The Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel was renovated by MAD Architects as part of the 2018 Echigo-Tsumari Triennale 
Visitors descend on the revamped Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel
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Visitors descend on the revamped Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel
Gift shop at the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel
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Gift shop at the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel
The wooden interior of the bath at the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel slopes upwards like a volcano to an opening at the top
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The wooden interior of the bath at the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel slopes upwards like a volcano to an opening at the top
The "Earth" installation at the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel
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The "Earth" installation at the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel
The many colors of the "Earth" installation at the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel
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The many colors of the "Earth" installation at the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel
The "Metal" installation at the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel includes a reflective capsule that houses a toilet
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The "Metal" installation at the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel includes a reflective capsule that houses a toilet
The "Fire" installation at the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel features convex mirrors that mimic molten blobs
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The "Fire" installation at the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel features convex mirrors that mimic molten blobs
Detail of the "Fire" installation at the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel
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Detail of the "Fire" installation at the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel
The "Light Cave" installation at the renovated Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel 
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The "Light Cave" installation at the renovated Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel 
The Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel was renovated by MAD Architects as part of the 2018 Echigo-Tsumari Triennale 
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The Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel was renovated by MAD Architects as part of the 2018 Echigo-Tsumari Triennale 
View gallery - 12 images

The folks at MAD Architects sure are a busy bunch, with a conference center in China, George Lucas' museum and a small hilltop village in LA among its projects to grab our attention this year. Its latest efforts in Japan are certainly no less eye-catching, transforming an abandoned tunnel into a stunning underground art gallery for the 2018 Echigo-Tsumari Triennale art festival.

The Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel serves as an avenue for spectacular vantage points of Japan's magnificent Kiyotsu Gorge, winding 750 meters (2,500 ft) through its famous rock formations with designated lookouts dotting the route. The renovation carried out by MAD Architect's offers even more eye-candy along the way, with five natural elements used as decorative themes throughout.

First up is "Wood," with a cedar-roofed cafe and souvenir shop offering local crafts and a hot spring foot spa upstairs. The wooden interior of the bath slopes upwards like a volcano to an opening at the top, which is fitted with mirrored lenses to reflect the surrounding scenery.

The wooden interior of the bath at the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel slopes upwards like a volcano to an opening at the top
The wooden interior of the bath at the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel slopes upwards like a volcano to an opening at the top

The passageways of the tunnel have also been illuminated with lights of different colors, each representing the different lookout points and all together intended as a representation of "Earth."

"Metal" is honored at the first of the revamped lookout points, with a reflective capsule housing a toilet and a one-way window covered in metallic film at the tunnel's end. This offers views outward over the gorge only, and is meant to explore the relationship between private and public.

The "Fire" installation at the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel features convex mirrors that mimic molten blobs
The "Fire" installation at the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel features convex mirrors that mimic molten blobs

Convex mirrors backed by fiery light adorn the tunnel's surfaces at the second lookout point, with these orange "dew drops" a tribute to the element of "Fire." And the "Light Cave" is the big finale, with the element of water honored by way of semi-polished stainless steel covering of the tunnel's surface. This combines with a shallow pool of water covering the floor to create shimmering reflections of the gorge beyond the edge.

The "Light Cave" installation at the renovated Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel 
The "Light Cave" installation at the renovated Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel 

The 2018 Echigo-Tsumari Triennale runs until September 17 in Japan's Niigata prefecture, while the video below provides more of a look inside the tunnel.

Source: Mad Architects

"Tunnel of Light" by MAD Architects at the 2018 Echigo-Tsumari Triennale

View gallery - 12 images
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