mt. fuji, the highest mountain in japan, was registered as world cultural heritage in june 2013 and in 2014, architect shigeru ban was chosen to design the mount fuji world heritage center in the shizuoka prefecture. 

 

selected ahead of 238 competing proposals, shigeru ban’s architecture will be finally opened to the public later on this month. articulated around an inversely shaped latticed cone, the design celebrates the mountain’s relatively recent status as a UNESCO site and its symbolic value in japan – the dormant volcano has provided a spiritual basis for the japanese since ancient times.  

 

designboom spoke to shigeru ban in his tokyo office and discussed the inverted cone shape and other important project details.

shigeru ban discusses the soon-to-open mount fuji world heritage center designboom
shigeru ban’s mount fuji world heritage center is located in japan’s shizuoka prefecture

 

 

comprised of 4,300 square meters, the fujisan world heritage center aims to be a base for future generations to understand and observe the importance of the mountain — renowned for its symmetry and serenity — and its surrounding area. heavy volcanic activity, which happened over more than 100,000 years and ended in 1707, sculpted the present, gentle shape of the sacred mountain.

perceived as an embodiment of the very spirit of nature, the ‘shugensha’, started considering ‘fujisan’ as an ascetic practice place where god and buddha resided; a gateway to another world for shintoists – followers of the goddess ‘sengen-sama’, and the ‘fujiko’ sect that believed the mountain itself a sacred being with a soul.

 

‘besides me, everyone designed a roof resembling the fuji mountain. but I thought it’s impossible to compete with the fuji mountain in front. so I did it the other way around,’ commented shigeru ban during our interview.

shigeru ban discusses the soon-to-open mount fuji world heritage center designboom
the project comprises a total of 4,300 square meters
all images courtesy shigeru ban architects

 

 

unlike some sacred mountains, it is not considered sacrilegious to climb mt. fuji and the mountain is home to many shinto shrines, buddhist temples and torii gates. the official climbing season is only from july to mid september, during which time most of the snow has melted and thousands of pilgrims and hikers make the climb to the top. there are ten stations along the way up, the first at the foot of the mountain and the 10th at the summit. these include huts for resting as well as other basic amenities.

 

shigeru ban envisions a similar act of ‘climbing up’ in his project for the center and by doing so the views, on clear days, from afar are very attractive.

shigeru ban discusses the soon-to-open mount fuji world heritage center designboom
a picture window frames mount fuji

shigeru ban discusses the soon-to-open mount fuji world heritage center designboom
the mount fuji world heritage center is set to open on december 22nd, 2017

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