Paper is perhaps the very last material one would think of when approaching a project of architecture, but this is precisely the material Kengo Kuma and Associates have turned to when designing a private museum in Paris to house the archives of late Spanish artist Antoni Clavé (1913-2005). More precisely, the Japanese architects have employed a wire mesh that’s been blasted in paper to divide the interior of the museum – a fitting reflection of the powerful textures synonymous with Spanish master painter’s work.
Kengo Kuma and Associates worked with traditional Japanese washi paper known for its textural quality and strength, used as a clever contrast to the minimalist, smooth surfaces of the rest of the interior. The paper coated wire mesh centres around the museum’s central staircase capped by a generous linear skylight. The natural daylight that pours into the space creates a dynamic interplay of light and shadow as it passes down the highly textural screen.
The paper-covered screens were made in western France by Yasuo Kobayashi, a washi manufacturer with a studio located in Niigata, Japan. During the process of washi-making, the metal mesh was soaked in a starchy liquid made from paper mulberry and sunset hibiscus. Varying levels of transparency were achieved by controlling and adjusting the thickness of the solution as the washi dried, resulting in a screen with a totally unique three-dimensional quality.
Antoni Clavé Archives in located in Paris’ bohemian 14th arrondissement and operates as a private museum that houses the many works of Catalan master painter, printmaker, sculptor, stage and costume designer. In addition to the museum/ gallery, the 240-square-metre space also houses a small office space on the mezzanine level, and was completed in December 2017.