Osaka Maritime Museum

  • Gross floor area of 20,699 m2.
  • The glass dome is 70m in diameter and 35m high.

The Osaka Maritime Museum was constructed on largely unused reclaimed land. The project provides a landmark building to stimulate interest and development in this area of Osaka.

The museum consists of an onshore entrance building, a submerged tunnel and a dramatic offshore dome. The dome is a 70m diameter single-layer lattice shell enclosing four floors of exhibition space.

The dome structure is a diagrid of straight tubular members butt-welded to full strength cast steel nodes and braced by high strength rods. The geometry was chosen so that the tubular members form flat quadrilateral planes. This enables the glazing system to use flat glass and repetitive details.

The dome was designed for heavy seismic loads and wave loads in addition to dead and wind loads.

The building services were designed to provide comfortable conditions in the sunny marine environment while preserving the transparency and dramatic nature of the dome.

Innovative ‘lamimetal’ glazing provides shade. The laminated glass incorporates a sheet of perforated metal in the interlayer, the size of the perforations controlling the passage of sunlight. The surface of the dome was analysed in relation to the sun path throughout the year. When solar energy is at a maximum, the lamimetal is almost opaque. When solar energy is reduced, the glass becomes clear. The overall density of the lamimetal was chosen to give the best balance between visibility and comfort. 

Sensitive exhibits require temperature and humidity to be finely controlled. As it would be inefficient to provide such conditions everywhere within the dome, controlled environments are provided in special zones within the core of the internal building.

Arup’s structural design of the dome was recognised in 2001 with a Structural Special Award from the UK Institution of Structural Engineers.


  • The dome is a 70m diameter, hemispherical, single-layer lattice shell, enclosing four floors of exhibition space

  • The project provided a landmark building to stimulate interest and further development in this area of Osaka.