MOUNT FUJI WORLD HERITAGE CENTER, JAPAN
LIGHTING PLANNERS ASSOCIATES/
SHIGERU BAN ARCHITECTS
Shigeru Ban’s designs for the Mount Fuji World
Heritage Center included an inverted, lattice timber
cone whose shape, seen in a large reflecting pool,
mirrors that of Japan’s highest peak, to the north.
Inside the cone, which houses the galleries, a spiral
path leads up five floors past projected images to
create the impression of scaling the 3776m-tall
volcano. At the top of the 193m rubberised slope
there is a full-height picture window looking out
on to the mountain.
The reflecting pool is fed with spring water from
Mount Fuji and incorporates a red torii gate at the
start of a processional route to an important shrine,
the Fujisan Hong Sengen Taisha.
The cone was built with 8000 bars of textured, white-painted cyprus wood. Their lapped joints, held in
place in front of the concrete facade by metal spacers,
create a woven effect emphasised by shadow.
The lighting by Kaoru Mende and the LPA team
required careful positioning and tilting of the hidden,
custom-made fixtures and architectural fixings in
order to highlight the trellis without direct spill on
to the surrounding buildings such as the shrine.
The light on the slanted surface is graduated and dims
from half-way up the cone. Mostly under five lux, the
surface illuminance is low so that it not only obviates
light pollution on the site but also avoids disturbing
the joint view of the mountain and the reflecting pool.
The walkway to the building is lit at below one lux
with reflected light from the facade – sufficient for
navigation but also dim enough to create contrast
with the structure’s exterior.
The warm white exterior lighting is timed to go on
half an hour before sunset. At three times in the
evening it fades for 10 minutes to a seasonal colour
scene such as blossom pink in spring, reflecting
changes in the appearance of the mountain.
Colour-changing is also used, though sparingly, to
mark special occasions such as the first and last days
of the climbing season, andevents such as New Year’s
and shrine festivals.
Lighting at the base and graduated from half-way up Shiguru Ban’s
inverted cone adds to the effect of mirroring Mount Fuji