Terunobu Fujimori

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April 14, 2009

A modern eccentric with an architectural sensibility drawn from ancient Japanese traditions, Terunobu Fujimori designs projects that are exercises in playful experimentation and sophisticated craft.

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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.  Photo by: Adam Friedberg
    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.

    Photo by: Adam Friedberg

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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.  Photo by: Adam FriedbergCourtesy 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.

    Photo by: Adam Friedberg

    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.  Photo by: Adam FriedbergCourtesy 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.

    Photo by: Adam Friedberg

    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.”  Photo by: Adam Friedberg
    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.”

    Photo by: Adam Friedberg

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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.  Photo by: Adam Friedberg
    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.

    Photo by: Adam Friedberg

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  In the summertime, grass and dandelions blooming add a new hue to the roof of Fujimori's family home.  Photo by: Adam FriedbergCourtesy of: Akihisa Masuda
    In the summertime, grass and dandelions blooming add a new hue to the roof of Fujimori's family home.

    Photo by: Adam Friedberg

    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.  Photo by: Adam Friedberg
    Inside the tiny tearoom, with its low ceiling, is like an adult clubhouse, designed for intimate conversation over hot drinks.

    Photo by: Adam Friedberg

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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.”  Photo by: Adam Friedberg
    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.”

    Photo by: Adam Friedberg

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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.  Photo by: Adam Friedberg
    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.

    Photo by: Adam Friedberg

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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.  Photo by: Adam Friedberg
    Fujimori, demonstrating the process of charring cedar boards, packs newspaper into the base of three planks that have been bound together.

    Photo by: Adam Friedberg

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  To begin the charring process, the newspaper that has been packed between the boards is set on fire.  Photo by: Adam Friedberg
    To begin the charring process, the newspaper that has been packed between the boards is set on fire.

    Photo by: Adam Friedberg

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  Fujimori uses a tool to coax the fire up the boards; this ensures an even charring of the wood.  Photo by: Adam Friedberg
    Fujimori uses a tool to coax the fire up the boards; this ensures an even charring of the wood.

    Photo by: Adam Friedberg

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  Once the fire is evenly distributed across the length of the board, it is simply a matter of patience.  Photo by: Adam Friedberg
    Once the fire is evenly distributed across the length of the board, it is simply a matter of patience.

    Photo by: Adam Friedberg

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  After seven minutes, the length of time it takes to produce the proper amount of char, the boards are separated.  Photo by: Adam Friedberg
    After seven minutes, the length of time it takes to produce the proper amount of char, the boards are separated.

    Photo by: Adam Friedberg

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  The craftsman pours water over the boards to halt the charring process.  Photo by: Adam Friedberg
    The craftsman pours water over the boards to halt the charring process.

    Photo by: Adam Friedberg

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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.  Photo by: Adam Friedberg
    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.

    Photo by: Adam Friedberg

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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.  Photo by: Adam Friedberg
    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.

    Photo by: Adam Friedberg

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  Fujimori carves many of his architectural models, like this one, for his Too-High Tea House, out of wood.  Photo by: Adam Friedberg
    Fujimori carves many of his architectural models, like this one, for his Too-High Tea House, out of wood.

    Photo by: Adam Friedberg

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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.  Photo by: Adam FriedbergCourtesy 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.

    Photo by: Adam Friedberg

    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.  Photo by: Adam FriedbergCourtesy 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.

    Photo by: Adam Friedberg

    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.  Photo by: Adam FriedbergCourtesy 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.

    Photo by: Adam Friedberg

    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."  Photo by: Adam FriedbergCourtesy 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."

    Photo by: Adam Friedberg

    Courtesy of: Akihisa Masuda

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  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.”  Photo by: Adam Friedberg
    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.”

    Photo by: Adam Friedberg

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