top of page

Fumihiko Maki

Fumihiko Maki

(Image: SEE Monster)

This is the second obituary to grace these pages. There is no desire to set a trend as it is a conversely maudlin and celebratory undertaking. But this one is important as I not only met Fumihiko Maki but he offered me a job.

In 1993 I was working in Germany for Takenaka Europe an interesting thing in its own right but more so for a self-styled Japanese nut in a town that boasted its own Japanese district. I as a British Architect was afforded a good deal of respect and opportunity and worked on a commercial building in Essen but the wider context was more notable. Each day I walked through doors adorned with giant kanji, bowed a lot and once attended a formal lunch with five Geisha. Events so conspired that Maki visited the office on his way to Poland to pick up the Pritzker World Architecture prize. This coincided with a commitment (to my now wife) to return to the UK and represents in hindsight one of life’s profound forks in the road.

Maki was involved with the Metabolists (a group centred on the idea that buildings should evolve to suit their purpose in an organic way) and his Fujisawa Gymnasium is perhaps the most iconic of his buildings with its dominant reflective steel roofs. This building has two distinct elements that can be broadly likened to a giant airstream caravan towed by an armoured mollusc but in any event the aliens have definitely landed. Like all things Japanese it has an essence that is hard for the west to replicate.

Arigato gozaimasu. Rest in peace.

bottom of page