Sou Fujimoto Naturalist

Born in Hokkaido, Japan, in 1971, architect Sou Fujimoto studied architecture at the University of Tokyo. He opened his own practice in 2000. Since then, the pioneer has made waves in both the public and private sectors, designing everything from the Serpentine Pavilion in London 2013 to unique residences in the world in his characteristic aerial style. Fujimoto travelled to New York last month to talk about some of his favourite projects at the Japan Society. Here’s what he chose. Fujimoto draws parallels between the ecology of a forest and the urban landscape of Tokyo. Just as forests surround people with leaves, branches, shrubs and other living things, Fujimoto sees the abundance of new things in Tokyo, such as floating road signs and electrical cables, in a similar light. He embraces the random structure of freewheeling nature and attempts to reflect its effects through man-made spaces, often modelling his architecture on the natural formations of a forest. 

The projects of Sou Fujimoto.

House N, 2008, Oita.

House H, 2008, Tokyo, Japan 2

House H, 2008, Tokyo.

Sou Fujimoto’s NA house in Tokyo can be seen as a house or a single room on several levels. Completed just eight years ago, this three-storey house is located in the picturesque Koenji district of Tokyo and blends quietly into its suburban environment. The house was inspired by the layered structure of a tree – a collection of different planes that intersect and overlap as parts of a single unit. There are few or no walls and therefore no separate rooms – only glass and semi-decorated spaces. Like the branches of a tree, the spaces are tightly positioned and stack evenly up to the top. Each room is slightly delimited by raised platforms and modular staircases. The entire house is made of glass and white steel frames, allowing natural light to pass through from all angles. The Musashino Art University Museum & Library in Fujimoto, Tokyo is one of his most remarkable works to date. The architect wanted to create a space for visitors to the library where one can “walk around and discover new books or ideas” in the same way as one can walk through a forest. The interior is lined with walls built like huge wooden shelves that rise up to the ceiling, accompanied by a multitude of cupboards, and even stairs, which uniformly serve as shelves. The space is also dotted with glass walls and ceilings to create a contrasting texture, allowing light to envelop the library without affecting its warm atmosphere.