Japan Pavilion at the 10th International Architecture Exhibition, the Venice Biennale in 2006: Commissioner

Commissioner / Terunobu Fujimori

Research in the field of architectural history is Fujimori's principal occupation, but he currently creates architectural works, too.

The main theme of his research into the history of architecture and city planning has been modern architecture, and particularly western-style buildings in Japan from the Meiji period onwards. His "Meiji no Tokyo Keikaku (Meiji Plans for Tokyo)" (pub. 1982, Iwanami Shoten), won him the Mainichi Publication Culture Award.

As part of his research, in 1974 he joined with friends and colleagues to form the Tokyo Architectural Detective Agency. Carrying maps and cameras, the detectives walked around Tokyo, from the commercial arcades of the lower-class 'shitamachi' areas to the residential sections of the high-class 'yamanote' areas, seeking out western-style buildings that had long been forgotten and covered up. This endeavor resulted in the publication of "Kenchiku Tantei no Boken: Tokyo Hen (Adventures of an Architectural Detective: Tokyo)" (1986, Chikuma Shobo), which won Fujimori the Suntory Prize for Social Science and Humanities. Since then, he has continued his architectural detective work, publishing the results in all sorts of different media formats in ways that make them accessible to the general public.

During his urban walks to discover forgotten architecture, Fujimori came to know Genpei Akasegawa, Shinbo Minami, Joji Hayashi, Tetsuo Matsuda and others who were 'collecting' intriguing properties around the town from a similar perspective. This encounter led to the establishment of the Roadway Observation Society in 1986.

After devoting himself to his architectural history research and writings for so long, Fujimori made a debut as an architect in 1991 at the age of 44 when he created the Jinchokan Moriya Historical Museum under commission from his hometown, Chino City in Nagano.

Fujimori's architecture took a completely untried approach, enveloping a reinforced concrete structure with local stones, earth, and hand-cut planking. The result caught the public's imagination, but the architectural community was more dubious until Kengo Kuma praised it for generating fond feelings of familiarity in people who had never seen it before. As more and more people began to appreciate his work, Fujimori went on to create the Akino Fuku Museum in Tenryu City (1997), a dormitory for Kumamoto Agricultural College (2000), Dandelion House (1995) with dandelions planted on the walls and roof, Leek House (1997), which was planted with leeks, and the Ichiya-tei tea house for Morihiro Hosokawa (2003). His most recent work is the Takasugi-an tea house (2004), set 6 meters above the ground like a treehouse. Leek House won him the Japan Art Grand Prix, and he was awarded the Architectural Institute of Japan Prize for Design for the Kumamoto Agricultural College Dormitory.

Born in Nagano in 1946, Terunobu Fujimori studied at Tohoku University before graduate school at the University of Tokyo. He is currently a professor at the University of Tokyo's Institute of Industrial Science.

"Eureka - Terunobu Fujimori edition" (Seidosha, 2004) gives detailed information (in Japanese) about Fujimori and his work. Other publications featuring his architectural works include "Terunobu Fujimori Y'avant-garde Architecture'' (TOTO, 1998).

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