Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Architecture of Terunobu Fujimori

Top to bottom: Terunobu Fujimori's Charred Cedar House, Coal House and Guest House
[all photos by Adam Friedberg for Dwell]

I first became familiar with Terunobu Fujimori and his Too High Tea House when I was researching tree houses for "Fly Away Home." It was only recently, though, that I realized the depth and breadth of his work.

A modern eccentric with traditional Japanese sensibilities, according to Dwell, Fujimori is not only an architect but also a scholar and professor of architectural history. Just as the Too High Tea House is a quirky, contemporary interpretation of an age-old Japanese cultural establishment, Fujimori continuously looks to the past to inform his forward-thinking designs.

Just take the Charred Cedar House, Coal House and Guest House above. Nothing can be more modern than these structures and shapes, not to mention that precarious cantilevering. Yet, the charred effect is achieved by an ancient, painstaking technique that seals the wood from rain, rot and insects for up to 80 years. (You can see Fujimori demonstrate the fascinating process here.)

The architect completed his own home, the Tanpopo House, in a suburb of Tokyo in 1955,
using volcanic siding and covering the roof and walls in grass and dandelions.

The Jinchokan Moriya Historical Museum, above, was Fujimori's first commissioned building, completed in 1991.

Fujimori wanted this building, which houses the Nemunoki Museum of Art, to resemble a mammoth, but I'm getting more of a humpback whale vibe.

The Lamune Hot Spring House incorporates two pine trees, with their spires appearing to poke out from the roof. 

Fujimori often carves his architectural models out of wood. Above (left) is the model for his Too High Tea House,
along with the structure itself.

Fujimori does not have an established firm (he employs a rotating cast of graduate students), let alone a website, but this 2009 Dwell story delves into his background, process and inspiration to wonderful effect.


  1. This is what I've always LOVED about your blog. How I can visit and learn about something completely out of my realm! These houses are just incredible. The though process alone that comes with creating something so unique and detailed is just wonderful! Thanks for posting!

  2. Aww... thanks, sweetie! I'm so glad!

  3. Loving both the Coal house and Guest house, what incredible designs... I don't know if you have a tv show or equivalent to Grand Designs? It's brilliant - you'd love and appreciate it! Don't know why I never mentioned it before!!!

    I've just gone into my 3rd trimester now-29 weeks on Tuesday! It's gone so fast! Hope you're having a super weekend!

  4. I think most of these would feel really strange to be inside of! Excellent finds, as always!

  5. Georgina CastellucciMarch 11, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    These images are stunning! I love when people highlight the unconventional, far more interesting xo