The second architectural folly of the 21st century is upon us. Sou Fujimoto, Nicolas Laisn Associs and Oxo Architects, have crafted an imaginative structure named White Tree in Montpellier, France that dazzles us with its unusual stair-step shape and how it fans into the open sky. For something to be referred to as a “folly,” a building must have an extravagant appearance, and transcend stylistic conventions. It's safe to say that White Tree does.
Influenced by both Japanese and Mediterranean styles, the building extends 17 stories and occupies 10,000 square meters. It's a mixed-use tower that accommodates residential units, office spaces, an art gallery, and restaurant and bar. The design is modular, with many possible layouts and features gorgeous panoramic views of the ocean and neighboring mountain range.
Like a tree, the building mimics the form, appearing to grow out of the ground. The various “branches” or decks provide shade for adjacent properties, and the architects imagined it as a vertical garden. The airy, open atmosphere is perfect for plants, and against the colorless backdrop, they really stand out. With so many windows, light wood and white walls, even when you're indoors it feels like outside.
Sou Fujimoto website, Nicolas Laisn Associates website, and OXO Architects website