The uncanny side of the fairy tale: Post-apocalyptic symbolism in Terunobu Fujimori's architecture

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Having first established himself as an architectural historian, Terunobu Fujimori (b. 1946) is now more famous for his design work than for his academic publications. He has even been praised as the most influential architect in Japan by the critic Kenjiro Okazaki (2006). Fujimori's popularity is attributable in particular to the fairy tale-like image of his architecture, which tends to appear playful as well as natural and nostalgic. However, this research focuses on the other side of the fairy tale - specifically, the strangely unfamiliar, even unsettling, feeling that his architecture evokes. Using Freud's and Vidler's notions of the uncanny for analysis, this study identifies the contradictory sentiment residing in the hidden clashes between the natural and artificial qualities of his design. Arguably, the uncanny aspect of Fujimori's architecture stems from a post-apocalyptic sensibility imprinted in the Japanese unconscious, which is haunted by the trauma of ruin, whether caused by natural or man-made disaster. This research focus can lead to a broader cultural discourse beyond the scope of a single architect's work, relevant to all modern unhomely societies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-117
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Architecture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jan 2

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 RIBA Enterprises.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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