Book List of the Week

Libraries Could Be Beyond Architecture: Sou Fujimoto’s Book List

By Steve Kroeter October 4, 2011

Sou Fujimoto

Architect Sou Fujimoto: Sou Fujimoto Architects (Tokyo)

book list

Designers & Books is likely to take immediate notice of architects who have particular ties to books—for example, those who have designed libraries, as Sou Fujimoto has. About the Musashino Art University Museum and Library (Tokyo), designed by Fujimoto and completed in 2010, Architectural Record remarked: “Sou Fujimoto’s library champions books—an especially noble achievement at a time when the printed word is facing an uncertain future.” The architect himself is quoted in that article as saying: “Enjoying, concentrating, and relaxing in a library surrounded by books is a special experience.”*

Sou Fujimoto: Musashino Art University Museum & Library, 2010 (INAX)

When Fujimoto spoke about this project in a lecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design earlier this year,** he said simply: “If you like books, this is book heaven; if you don’t like books, this is hell!” During the lecture Fujimoto talks about the influence on him of Jorge Luis Borges’s story “The Library of Babel”; the way that layering, openings, and hidden spaces are incorporated into the design of the interior spaces—and why; and the details of his choice of translucent polycarbonate materials for the ceilings—a choice that helped him achieve a long sought-after sense of “light flowing above,” creating the effect of “rooms having no ceiling” and “architecture without a roof.”

The orientation, values, and worldview that are embedded in the story of the Musashino library are all reflected in the book list that Fujimoto provided to Designers & Books. Included is Libraries—photographer Candida Höfer’s book of radiant and serene photographs of the world’s most famed book collections, from Paris, Rome, New York, Hamburg, and beyond.

Sou Fujumoto: Primitive Future, 2008 (INAX)

Fujimoto comments about this book, “Libraries could be beyond architecture”—and we are left, interestingly and perhaps a touch mysteriously, to wonder if he means it as a suggestion for us to ponder or as an explanation of his quest in the Musashino building for “no ceilings; no roof.” 

About Borges, Fujimoto says that not only has he been inspired by “The Library of Babel” but also that he likes “all of Borges’s works” for their “spinning sensation in infinite time and infinite space.” And, as is evident in his work, Fujimoto embraces the idea of “seeing the world from a totally different point of view,” which is how he describes the books written by physicist George Gamow, including One Two Three  . . . Infinity.

Fujimoto’s attraction to books includes writing them. In addition to Musashino Art University Museum & Library, published in 2010, he is also the author of the best-selling 2008 book Primitive Future. **

comments powered by Disqus