Look through a keyhole and you see another
world. Hold a frame up the horizon and it’s suddenly a work of art. Look
through a tunnel – like the newly restored Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel in Japan – and
you can get an elemental new perspective on the world.
Restored by global architecture firm MAD
for the 2018 Echigo-Tsumari Triennale, the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel in Japan’s
Niigata prefecture stretches 750m through the mountains along a gorge. The
tunnel has been reimagined and restored to embody its connection with the
natural elements: wood, earth, metal, fire and water. In Periscope (wood), the
wooden ceiling of a hot spring foot spa creates a conical opening, rimmed by
invisible mirrors, that allow you to see the scenery outdoors from down below.
The stillness is palpable, and through the subtle trick of the mirrors sunny
new vistas are opened despite your enclosure within.
Expression of Color (earth) is a long
stretch of tunnel spiked with vibrant greens and oranges, crimson reds and
voluptuous blue, like something from the artist Dan Flavin. Invisible Bubble
(metal) is a space-age image right out of Stanley Kubrick, and The Drop (fire)
features mirrors rimmed with fervent orange light, like holes burned straight
through the structure. Each elemental point features lookout points that
heighten, contrast and reimagine your personal view of the woods, snow, rock
and water outside.
Perhaps the most impressive is the Light
Cave. Upon entering the cave, both the shallow pool at your feet and the highly
polished stainless steel walls draw the light and lush colours of the sky,
rocks and foliage into the created environment. By transforming the exterior
environment into pure light, it gives the feeling of being truly immersed in a
sort of transcendental experience of nature.
If you’re in Japan, visit the Kiyotsu Gorge
Tunnel. It might be just the right hole to give you a new look at life.