Terunobu Fujimori

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April 14, 2009
Originally published in Beyond Green
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  Terunobu Fujimori's Charred Cedar House, completed in 2007. As the name implies, the entire home is clad in charred cedar boards, which have been treated with an ancient Japanese technique that seals the wood against rain and rot.
    Terunobu Fujimori's Charred Cedar House, completed in 2007. As the name implies, the entire home is clad in charred cedar boards, which have been treated with an ancient Japanese technique that seals the wood against rain and rot.
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  The 1991 Jinchokan Moriya Historical Museum, Fujimori’s first commissioned building, signaled the themes that continue to drive his work: design in harmony with nature; raw, natural materials (wood, mud-and-mortar walls); and a Neolithic-inspired architectural style.  Courtesy of Akihisa Masuda.
    The 1991 Jinchokan Moriya Historical Museum, Fujimori’s first commissioned building, signaled the themes that continue to drive his work: design in harmony with nature; raw, natural materials (wood, mud-and-mortar walls); and a Neolithic-inspired architectural style. Courtesy of Akihisa Masuda.
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  Fujimori's sketch for his next project after the Jinchokan Moriya Historical Museum, Tanpopo House, introduced another obsession: houses with plants growing out of them.  Courtesy of Terunobu Fujimori.
    Fujimori's sketch for his next project after the Jinchokan Moriya Historical Museum, Tanpopo House, introduced another obsession: houses with plants growing out of them. Courtesy of Terunobu Fujimori.
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  Fujimori designed his own residence, the Tanpopo House, in 1995, with volcanic rock siding and grass and dandelions on the roof and walls; he is pleased by its “bushy-haired expression.”
    Fujimori designed his own residence, the Tanpopo House, in 1995, with volcanic rock siding and grass and dandelions on the roof and walls; he is pleased by its “bushy-haired expression.”
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  The Tanpopo House's family tearoom is an updated take on Japan’s traditional flexible, open-plan tatami-mat room. Here, the charcoal fire pit for the teapot is an electric coil embedded in the floor, and the flooring is a durable rattan from Indonesia. Plaster oozing in between oak planks gives the room a warm, rough-hewn feel—a Fujimori signature.
    The Tanpopo House's family tearoom is an updated take on Japan’s traditional flexible, open-plan tatami-mat room. Here, the charcoal fire pit for the teapot is an electric coil embedded in the floor, and the flooring is a durable rattan from Indonesia. Plaster oozing in between oak planks gives the room a warm, rough-hewn feel—a Fujimori signature.
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  In the summertime, grass and dandelions blooming add a new hue to the roof of Fujimori's family home.  Courtesy of Akihisa Masuda.
    In the summertime, grass and dandelions blooming add a new hue to the roof of Fujimori's family home. Courtesy of Akihisa Masuda.
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  Inside the tiny tearoom, with its low ceiling, is like an adult clubhouse, designed for intimate conversation over hot drinks.
    Inside the tiny tearoom, with its low ceiling, is like an adult clubhouse, designed for intimate conversation over hot drinks.
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  The climb to the Coal House tea room is purposely precarious. Fujimori wants visitors to “be a little afraid” on their way up; it’s “a device to make you feel and think differently in this space.”
    The climb to the Coal House tea room is purposely precarious. Fujimori wants visitors to “be a little afraid” on their way up; it’s “a device to make you feel and think differently in this space.”
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  In Fujimori’s most recent project, Coal House, a tearoom protrudes from the second story, accessible from the exterior by a timber ladder that appears to pierce the roof and from the interior by a secret door in the master bedroom.
    In Fujimori’s most recent project, Coal House, a tearoom protrudes from the second story, accessible from the exterior by a timber ladder that appears to pierce the roof and from the interior by a secret door in the master bedroom.
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  Fujimori, demonstrating the process of charring cedar boards, packs newspaper into the base of three planks that have been bound together.
    Fujimori, demonstrating the process of charring cedar boards, packs newspaper into the base of three planks that have been bound together.
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  To begin the charring process, the newspaper that has been packed between the boards is set on fire.
    To begin the charring process, the newspaper that has been packed between the boards is set on fire.
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  Fujimori uses a tool to coax the fire up the boards; this ensures an even charring of the wood.
    Fujimori uses a tool to coax the fire up the boards; this ensures an even charring of the wood.
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  Once the fire is evenly distributed across the length of the board, it is simply a matter of patience.
    Once the fire is evenly distributed across the length of the board, it is simply a matter of patience.
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  After seven minutes, the length of time it takes to produce the proper amount of char, the boards are separated.
    After seven minutes, the length of time it takes to produce the proper amount of char, the boards are separated.
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  The craftsman pours water over the boards to halt the charring process.
    The craftsman pours water over the boards to halt the charring process.
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  After the flames have been put out, the boards continue to crackle and smoke. Charring the boards properly requires a delicate balance between just enough burning, but not too much.
    After the flames have been put out, the boards continue to crackle and smoke. Charring the boards properly requires a delicate balance between just enough burning, but not too much.
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  The primitive and painstaking process is said to protect wood against rain, rot, and insects for 80 years. It also gives the exteriors a reptilian texture that’s as striking as it is practical.
    The primitive and painstaking process is said to protect wood against rain, rot, and insects for 80 years. It also gives the exteriors a reptilian texture that’s as striking as it is practical.
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  Fujimori carves many of his architectural models, like this one, for his Too-High Tea House, out of wood.
    Fujimori carves many of his architectural models, like this one, for his Too-High Tea House, out of wood.
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  Architecture and nature combine in many of Fujimori's projects: the Lamune Hot Spring House appears to be built around two pine trees, with their spires poking out from the roof.  Courtesy of Akihisa Masuda.
    Architecture and nature combine in many of Fujimori's projects: the Lamune Hot Spring House appears to be built around two pine trees, with their spires poking out from the roof. Courtesy of Akihisa Masuda.
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  For Camellia Castle, which houses a sake brewery, Fujimori designed a grass-covered roof and a cladding comprised of grass-and-stone checkerboard.  Courtesy of Akihisa Masuda.
    For Camellia Castle, which houses a sake brewery, Fujimori designed a grass-covered roof and a cladding comprised of grass-and-stone checkerboard. Courtesy of Akihisa Masuda.
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  Fujimori has an affinity for building structures that appear to be perched precariously: His charred cedar-clad Guest House seems to balance on a sliver of a wall.  Courtesy of Akihisa Masuda.
    Fujimori has an affinity for building structures that appear to be perched precariously: His charred cedar-clad Guest House seems to balance on a sliver of a wall. Courtesy of Akihisa Masuda.
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  Fujimori's playful approach to architecture is on display in his building that houses the Nemunoki Museum of Art. He wanted this humpbacked children's museum to resemble "a mammoth."  Courtesy of Akihisa Masuda.
    Fujimori's playful approach to architecture is on display in his building that houses the Nemunoki Museum of Art. He wanted this humpbacked children's museum to resemble "a mammoth." Courtesy of Akihisa Masuda.
  • 
  Fujimori's retreat in Nagano, The Too-High Tea House, which is adorned with a roof of hand-rolled copper sheets, seems precariously perched atop a pair of tree trunks 20 feet in the sky. Why two? “One leg is dangerous and three legs are too stable and boring.”
    Fujimori's retreat in Nagano, The Too-High Tea House, which is adorned with a roof of hand-rolled copper sheets, seems precariously perched atop a pair of tree trunks 20 feet in the sky. Why two? “One leg is dangerous and three legs are too stable and boring.”
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