I recently went to the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London which is where I found this structure that I really like.
It is an architectural model called “Transparent Void of a Tree” created by Sou Fujimoto who is well known for his “permeable structures and delicate, light filled spaces” – this model has been made using acrylic and glue. The reason I am so attracted to this is because he explores the themes of both nature and the man-made; particularly focusing on how buildings and installations can “straddle the space” between them. This particular structure is merely a model for an “immersive environment” that was created for an exhibition at the V&A. Fujimoto’s work seems so light, clear and refined that sometimes when looking at these structures it appears as though “gravity has ceased to exert its pull.” (Maak, 2013)
Sou Fujimoto was born in Tokyo, 1971 and has established his own office “Sou Fujimoto Architects”. His main goal is to “create a fundamental or new relationship between people” (Gadanho, 2016, p. 13) He was invited by the V&A, alongside eighteen architects, to submit a proposal for a structure that examines notions of “refuge and retreat.” (V&A, 2016) This model, alongside six others, were “selected for construction at full-scale.” (V&A, 2016) It “reawakened people’s ability to inhabit architectural space on both a physical and an emotional level.” (V&A, 2016)
“Transparent Void of a Tree”, made in 2009, is quite simply a cube that is made up of lots of acrylic triangles which have been glued together at different angles. The object is transparent but has different levels of density when looking through – it is never truly opaque. The multiple layers created within the structure create a cloudy effect. The cube’s interior is filled with a “crystalline structure” (V&A, 2016). The geometrics, layering techniques and the composition of the model inspire me.
The concept of this structure references ‘engawa’ – this is a Japanese word that identifies the separation of the house and the garden. (Archer, 2010) “The simplicity of the Japanese culture” (Fujimoto, 2010) has influenced the works of Sou Fujimoto but he still likes to create things that are complex. The combination of nature and artificiality appeals to him as nature is “really complex” (Fujimoto, 2010) and artificialities are based on simplicity. So he likes to create something very complex by using an artificial method. (Fujimoto, 2010)
The theme of this structure is “inside and outside” (Fujimoto, 2010) which are “very exciting key words” (Fujimoto, 2010) for Fujimoto. The inside and outside of the structure are “melting together” (Fujimoto, 2010) whereby it cannot be identified as to which is the outside and which is the inside. The concept of this structure was very clear; the idea of a “transparent tree shape” (Fujimoto, 2010) but the actual construction and how to create it became a big problem for him – what I had seen at the museum was only a model/prototype of the actual structure. There were a range of factors that had to be considered, re-evaluated and changes such as the materials, structures and combinations of the triangular shapes of the glass to make it more abstract but still ensuring it looked like a real tree. (Fujimoto, 2010)
The final structure really amazes me because Fujimoto has combined two very different styles of working together both in terms of the procedure and the materials used. There’s a “nice combination of laser cut plexiglass” (Fujimoto, 2010) with a hand-craft method of using cable ties. It’s a “primitive, simple way to tie things” (Fujimoto, 2010) combined with a more precise, complex method of cutting glass. (Fujimoto, 2010) It’s almost like a “delicate stitching of the cable ties” (Thomas, 2010) is used to attach each piece of glass together.
When Fujimoto first created the model he didn’t know where he would be placing his life-size structure but he acknowledged that the V&A museum is made of stone and so he decided to use a more “contemporary material”. (Fujimoto, 2010) The process of creating models to scale is a very “old and conventional technique of representation” (Provencio & Almazan, 2011) but Fujimoto sees it as a form of visualising beforehand; thus being able to identify any problems. It makes way for innovative architectural designs.
V&A (2016) Architectural Model. Available at: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1177335/architectural-model-sou-fujimoto-architects/ (Accessed: 2016).
ARCHER, N. (2010) Sou Fujimoto: Inside Outside Tree. Available at: http://www.designboom.com/architecture/sou-fujimoto-inside-outside-tree/ (Accessed: 2016).
FUJIMOTO, S. (2010) Inside/Outside Tree – Sou Fujimoto. Available at: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/videos/i/video-inside-outside-tree-sou-fujimoto/ (Accessed: 2016).
GADANHO (2016) A Japanese Constellation. New York: The Museum of Modern Art.
MAAK, N. (2013) ‘On Sou Fujimoto’, in Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013. London: Koenig Books, pp. 46–61.
PROVENCIO, M.A. and ALMAZAN, J. (2011) ‘Designing the Process: Scale Models in the Work of Kazuyo Sejimaand Sou Fujimoto’, ArchNey – IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research, 5(1), pp. 22–36.
THOMAS, A. (2010) Sou Fujimoto Inside/Outside Tree – A Final Polish. Available at: http://www.vam.ac.uk/blog/11-architects-build-small-spaces/sou-fujimoto-insideoutside-tree-final (Accessed: 2016).
Fig. 1 – V&A (2016) Architectural Model. Available at: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1177335/architectural-model-sou-fujimoto-architects/ (Accessed: 2016).
Fig. 2, 3 – ARCHER, N. (2010) Sou Fujimoto: Inside Outside Tree. Available at: http://www.designboom.com/architecture/sou-fujimoto-inside-outside-tree/ (Accessed: 2016).
Word Count: 711