Saturday, October 8, 2011

architecture: utopian modernity

Kisho Kurokawa Nakagin Capsule 1972
This fall is an architecture season in Tokyo with World Congress of Architects as a centerpiece and related exhibitions such as the one in Mori Art Museum which takes a look at the revolutionary architectural movement from 60s. The Metabolism movement was developed during the period of reconstruction in which war-torn Japan worked to move toward its period of rapid economic growth. Gathered around the iconic figure of Kenzo Tange the group of young architects including Masato Otaka, Fumihiko Maki, Kiyonori Kikutake, Arata Isozaki and Kisho Kurokawa engaged in heated debates over the ideal city, and planned a great deal of experimental architecture and cities based on ideas of lifestyles and communities for a new era. As their name suggests, the Metabolists responded to urgent problems like the sudden increase in population and expansion of cities by proposing large-scale architecture and urban planning that would continue to change in form organically as opposed to static urban conditions illustrated in Le Corbusier schemes. These ideas first surfaced in 1960 at the World Design Conference where the Metabolist group presented a manifesto entitled: Metabolism 1960: Proposals for a New Urbanism. It coincided directly with the Income Doubling Plan that the Hayato Ikeda cabinet implemented in 1960. This moment constituted, in the words of Rem Koolhaas — perhaps the most influential architect alive and an avid student of the Metabolists' ideas — a rare moment where government, bureaucrats and artistic architectural circles were connected in a single enterprise.

Kiyonori Kikutake Marine City 1963

Isozaki Arata Shibuya Project: City in the Air 1962
Assembling more than 500 items, the exhibition reveals visions of cities floating on water and spiraling into the air; towers bristling with plug-in capsules for dwelling, linked by huge tubes for services and movement; grand plans for cities and farms presented in models, sketches, plans, archive film footage and 3D animations.

photos: courtesy Mori Art Museum and Kikutake Kiyonori

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