Metabolism and modern urbanism in 1960s of Japan

Abstract

Topic : Metabolism and modern urbanism in 1960s of Japan

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In the 60s’, the architectural movement in Japan has brought metabolism up to the front and started a manifesto of urban utopia. It was deeply influenced by the post-war social circumstances, advanced technologies in building construction, and the Fukushima catastrophe. One of the most iconic works at this time is the Capsule Tower designed by Kisho Kurokawa. This project conveys a bold vision of the future, a shifting understanding of man, machine and space; furthermore, the revolution of modern urbanism. The dialogue has been developed through both theatrical proposals and built projects, following the radical urban plans. Drawing on the projects and writings of metabolism, this paper will depict and analyze how did metabolism successfully embodied an ideal architecture module but failed to provide a solution to modern urban issues.

 

This paper will investigate the history of how metabolism is originated, prosecuted and evolved in Japan. How did the specific social and economic environment of Japan in the 60s’ help to promote this movement? Is metabolism scaleless and where is the limit of the metabolism urban system? Did metabolism blur the line of machine and architecture, or even megastructure and city?

 

Kisho Kurokawa believes architecture should be adaptive and flexible, which makes metabolism architecture an ideal spacial prototype different from machines. “I thought that architecture is not permanent art, something that is completed and fixed, but rather something that grows towards the future, is expanded upon, renovated and developed. This is the concept of metabolism (metabolize, circulate and recycle).”

 

For my paper, I plan to use the “Capsule Declaration” as the main text to understand the theory of metabolism with an emphasis on freedom, privacy, and mobility of dwellings. Moving forward, I will discuss how does the growth of the system and mass production provide the opportunity for megastructure and finally for metabolism urban structure, including a few urban proposals such as Helix City and Marine City. Furthermore, in Kisho Kurokawa’s later writing, “The Architecture of the Age of Life”, he updated metabolism and reinforced how ”Postmodern architecture acutely grasps the transition from industrial society to information society. ” To conclude, looking back to the history of metabolism manifesto in Japan in the 60s’, this paper discusses the concepts and principles of metabolism and how did it push the age of the machine forward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preliminary Bibliography

 

Main Text:

 

  1. Kurokawa. 1969. Capsule Declaration. Ebook. Tokyo: Kajima Institute Pub. (attached)

 

Secondary Texts:

 

  1. The Twentieth Century as the Age of Machine[online] https://www.kisho.co.jp/page/298.html

 

  1. Kenzo Tange and theMetabolist Movement, Lin Z. (attached)

 

  1. Beyond metabolism : the new Japanese architecture / Michael Franklin Ross. (online. if access is limited pls request) https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000748387

 

  1. Metabolism, the city of the future / Tokyo : Mori Art Museum (online. if access is limited pls request) https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/102598736

 

 

Other texts:

 

  1. Beyong Utopia (attached)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Structure of the paper. (just for reference)

 

  • Introduction (1 page)
    • Basic concept, main figures, location, timeline, famous built project and proposals.

 

  • Background (1-2 pages)
    • How did the specific social and economic environment of Japan in the 60s’ help to promote this movement?
    • How did architecture movement around the world at the time help to promote this movement?

 

  • Analysis (6-7 pages)
    • Analyze Capsule Tower closely. (around 3-4 pages)
    • Evaluate if it success or failed to achieve:
    • to provide a vision of a future society
    • to treat design and technology as extensions of the generative power of human life–as part of the universal process of becoming
    • to promote the “metabolic transformation of history.

 

  • Analyze one or more urban proposal closely. (around 2-3 pages)
  • Evaluate if they success or failed to achieve:(1)(2)(3) same as above.

 

  • Further reading Kengo Kuma’s writing and make reflection (around 2 pages)
    • Is metabolism scaleless ? Where is the limit of the metabolism urban system?
    • Did metabolism blur the line of machine and architecture, or even megastructure and city?
    • Did metabolism successfully embodied an ideal architecture module but failed to provide a solution to modern urban issues?
    • What this manifesto leave us to learn from?

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