Sou Fujimoto's V&A Tree

Sou Fujiomoto will install 'the transparent void of a tree' on the landing outside the V&A architecture in June. In this film the architect talks about his practice and his V&A project

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Video Transcript

This is Tokyo nature and Tokyo architecture. Tokyo nature, Tokyo architecture and Tokyo sky.

My practice is based in Tokyo and the staff is sixteen and ten more interns, so around thirty people are working in my office. I like to have a good collaboration with staff so the office is a good workshop to create new architecture. In the process of studying architecture, I discovered Japanese tradition is really important for me. Not just following Japanese culture but to find, discover something new. 

My principle of architecture is of course based on the simplicity of Japanese culture but at the same time I like to create something very complex. It’s kind of a good combination of nature and artificial things together because nature is really complex and artificial things are based on simplicity so I like to create something very complex in an artificial way.

My site is in front of the architecture gallery. The theme is ‘inside and outside’ and these are really exciting key words for me. I proposed a transparent tree shape but the tree is not a tree but a void of tree. A long time ago of course and in the future, a tree is one of the best expressions for people to create something.

The concept is a very clear transparent tree shape and inside outside shape but how to realise is a very big problem because transparent tree shapes are really complex things.

In the process of the realisation, we changed the materials, the structures and the combination of the triangular shape of the plexiglass to make it more abstract but at the same time like a real tree. One of the most difficult things is to create this 3D model and another thing is to assemble them together, like a puzzle. It’s more and more outside and inside is melting together. We cannot say which is inside and which is outside. We got a nice combination of laser cut plexiglass combined by this handcraft method. It’s a really primitive, simple way to tie things.

This space, this whole thing has a kind of a huge power itself. We selected to make a good contrast to the rest of the space because most of the space is covered by stones and huge, so we used more and more contemporary materials and more transparent things. It could be a good contrast, but I hope to be a good harmony.


The V&A staged a contemporary architecture exhibition which opened on 15th June 2010, exploring the power of small spaces. From a shortlist of nineteen, seven international architects were selected to design structures which explore notions of refuge and retreat. These buildings which examine themes such as play, work, performance and study will be built at full-scale in various spaces within the V&A. 

The V&A has commissioned seven short films which look at  the architects and their projects. These combine filmed interviews with the architects about their design philosophy and their retreat concept for the V&A with self-shot video footage.



Sou Fujimoto's plan to build an artificial tree in the V&A for the exhibition 1:1 - Architects Build Small Spaces, emerges from an architecture that draws both on the deep complexity of nature and the imposed simplicity of man-made design.

This film shot both in the V&A and in Fujimoto's home town of Tokyo using self-shot footage shows Fujimoto talking about his design philosophy and reveals his practice at work.