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Pavilion brings a touch of Japan to Gunnersbury

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Kisho Kurokawa plans to bring the East to west London with his design for a Japanese pavilion in Gunnersbury Park.

The pavilion will be Kurokawa's first building in the UK if it wins the backing of park owners Hounslow and Ealing councils. It will house the UK's first Anglo-Japanese cultural centre and bring together facilities for a range of Japanese activities - martial arts, Japanese archery (kyudo), origami, flower-arranging and poetry.

Gunnersbury has the third largest Japanese population outside of Japan, explained Phillida Purves, Japanophile and the driving force behind the project. The centre will raise awareness in England about Japanese culture as well as offering a resource for the diaspora.

'I strongly believe the breadth of different activities and Japanese connections in this country justifies one identifiable Japanese centre, ' she said. 'It's something that's been talked about for years.'

The scheme involves the restoration of two 17th-century stone stable blocks - one Grade II-listed, the other Grade II*-listed - and the addition of transparent glass extensions.

The existing north stable block will house a library and administration offices, with the construction of a new block providing a Japanese restaurant. A neglected Japanese garden behind the north block will be restored, and the restaurant will look out onto it. Within the garden, there will be a glass teahouse for Japanese tea rituals.

The existing east stable block, flanked by the road, will house a soundinsulated music room and meeting rooms. An earlier extension will be converted to WCs and changing rooms. This will be connected to the largest of the new buildings neighbouring it, which will house a martial arts centre, the budokan.

The scheme also adds a lecture and conference room and an archery hall, sited at the other end of the east stables block.

The new-build glass structures will act like greenhouses, collecting solar energy for a natural heating system. Transparent solar panels will cover the exterior walls and roofs. Trained ivy inside the walls will provide shading, with natural breeze ventilation used during the summer.

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