Terunobu Fujimori (藤森 照信 Fujimori Terunobu?, November 21, 1946) is a Japanese architect and architectural historian.
During the 1970s and 80s he made studies of the city about early Western buildings and unusual occurrences and did not turn to architecture until he was in his forties. His work is considered by many to be eccentric but is characterised by his use of natural materials.
Although he is well known in Japan as a cultural commentator he was not widely known in the West until he represented Japan at the 2006 Venice Biennale.
Fujimori was born Miyakawa-mura in Nagano Prefecture, Japan. He studied at Tōhoku University before entering graduate school at the University of Tōkyō. He is currently a professor at the University of Tōkyō's Institute of Industrial Science.
Whilst writing his thesis in the 1970s Fujimori formed the Architecture Detectives. In this group he and his colleagues searched the city to find and photograph early Western-style buildings. Twelve years of work on this subject resulted in the publication of the book Adventures of an Architectural Detective: Tokyo (1986). In 1986 Fujimori formed the Roadway Observation Society with Genpei Akasegawa, Shinbo Minami, Joji Hayashi, Tetsuo Matsuda. The group records unusual but naturally occurring patterns in the city, for example the pattern left by a tree on a concrete wall or a rubbish bin that has been bent over to form a seat. Their studies have been compared to Venturi and Scott-Brown's Learning from Las Vegas.
In 1991 Fujimori began to practice architecture with his first work, the Jinchokan Moriya Historical Museum in Nagano Prefecture. Architectural influences for his work include Le Corbusier, Claude Nicolas Ledoux, Takamasa Yoshizaka, the Ise Shrine and Callanish Standing Stones. His architecture is characterised by eccentricity and humour, experimental use of natural materials and the subversion of traditional techniques. Although the Jinchokan Moriya Historical Museum has been criticised for merely wrapping a concrete structure in natural materials it was praised by architect Kengo Kuma as "generating fond feelings of familiarity in people who had never seen it before".
Well known in Japan as an author, cultural commentator and TV host he was relatively unknown in the West until he represented Japan in the 2006 Venice Biennale. His display in the Japanese pavilion showed houses sprouting leeks and dandelions. As the theme of the Biennale was the "city" Fujimori included a woven rice twine hut housing a slide presentation of the work of ROJO. In 2010 he contributed the Beetle's House to one of seven designs for the V&A's "1:1 Architects Build Small Spaces" exhibition.
His work with ROJO has left an impression on younger architects like Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kajima of Atelier Bow-Wow. Like Fujimori they surveyed the city for "no-good" architecture and published their findings in the book Made in Tōkyō.
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