Architects of the Year – Sou Fujimoto Architects

Company description:

Houses without walls, roofs that flutter over a landscape like ribbons, and façades that are surrounded by countless small and large terraces. The Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto breaks with conventions – and in doing so creates something that contemporary architecture often lacks: distinctiveness, intense relationships of closeness and distance, contrasts of detail and uniformity, and architectural forms that could often be read as sculptures. Founded in 2000, Sou Fujimoto Architects now employs almost 80 people in offices in Tokyo and Paris. Sou Fujimoto Architects have long since gained worldwide recognition for their special approach to space, archetypal form and building at eye level with nature. Not least since the Serpentine Gallery in London asked the firm in 2013 to design the temporary pavilion in Kensington Gardens, which is redesigned every year. This pavilion already embodies what Sou Fujimoto Architects stands for: at first glance, simple, primarily monochromatic white, yet complex structures that virtually invite you to climb up them and look at the world from unusual perspectives.

Jury statement

If there is one thing that Sou Fujimoto Architects, more than any other firm, proves time and again, it is that architecture, in the best sense, cannot be seen as an adversary to nature but as its ally. Architecture is nature. Nature is living space. The 56-metre-high residential project, »L'Arbre Blanc«, is house like a tree, for example which the office completed in 2019 in Montpellier in the south of France. With the help of more than 100 balconies, between 7 and 35 sqm in size, which protrude from the round building in all directions like branches or birds' nests, Sou Fujimoto's team expresses the city in the form of a forest, in which humans and animals find a symbiotic relationship. On the shore of the South China Sea, on the island of Hainan, on the other hand, the ring-shaped Cultural Centre with its walk-on roof has been making gentle waves since 2023 as part of an international art and culture project. And for the surrounding roof of woven grasses of the »Flowing Cloud Pavilion« in a mountain village in Hangzhou, China, Fujimoto was inspired by low-hanging veils of clouds that link the houses and the adjacent forest. Breathtakingly beautiful!

Statement Sou Fujimoto:

»We are honoured to receive the ICONIC AWARD for Architects of the Year 2023. Our architecture is created by asking a very fundamental question, seeking for the relationship between nature and artifacts as well as the connection of history, the present and the future. Based on this architectural philosophy, we have been working creatively both in Tokyo and Paris. We are very happy and proud to have been evaluated by many people and prominent judges from all over the world who are striving to develop good architecture. We will continue to dedicate ourselves to architecture that truly stands in harmony with nature, the city and people.«


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