They were influenced by a wide variety of sources including Marxist theories and biological processes. Their manifesto was a series of four essays entitled: Ocean City, Space City, Towards Group Form, and Material and Man, and it also included designs for vast cities that floated on the oceans and plug-in capsule towers that could incorporate organic growth. Although the World Design Conference gave the Metabolists exposure on the international stage their ideas remained largely theoretical. Some smaller, individual buildings that employed the principles of Metabolism were built and these included Tange's Yamanashi Press and Broadcaster Centre and Kurokawa's Nakagin Capsule Tower.

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They were influenced by a wide variety of sources including Marxist theories and biological processes. Their manifesto was a series of four essays entitled: Ocean City, Space City, Towards Group Form, and Material and Man, and it also included designs for vast cities that floated on the oceans and plug-in capsule towers that could incorporate organic growth.

Although the World Design Conference gave the Metabolists exposure on the international stage their ideas remained largely theoretical. Some smaller, individual buildings that employed the principles of Metabolism were built and these included Tange's Yamanashi Press and Broadcaster Centre and Kurokawa's Nakagin Capsule Tower.

The greatest concentration of their work was to be found at the World Exposition in Osaka where Tange was responsible for master planning the whole site whilst Kikutake and Kurokawa designed pavilions. After the oil crisis , the Metabolists turned their attention away from Japan and toward Africa and the Middle East.

During the early s they promoted the idea based upon new urban patterns in the United States that urban development should be guided by CIAM's four functional categories of: dwelling, work, transportation, and recreation.

This view gained some traction in the immediate post-war period when Le Corbusier and his colleagues began to design buildings in Chandigarh. By the early s it was felt that CIAM was losing its avant-garde edge so in a group of younger members called " Team 10 " was formed.

The Team 10 architects introduced concepts like "human association", "cluster" and "mobility", with Bakema encouraging the combination of architecture and planning in urban design. This presentation exposed the fledgling Metabolist movement to its first international audience. Like Team 10's "human association" concepts Metabolism too was exploring new concepts in urban design.

Tower-shaped City was a metre tall tower that housed the infrastructure for an entire city. It included transportation, services and a manufacturing plant for prefabricated houses. The tower was vertical "artificial land" onto which steel, pre-fabricated dwelling capsules could be attached. Kikutake proposed that these capsules would undergo self-renewal every fifty years and the city would grow organically like branches of a tree. Constructed on a hillside, the Sky House is a platform supported on four concrete panels with a hyperbolic paraboloid shell roof.

It is a single space divided by storage units with the kitchen and bathroom on the outer edge. At one point a small children's room was attached to the bottom of main floor with a small child-sized access door between the two rooms. After the meeting, Tange left for Massachusetts Institute of Technology to begin a four-month period as a visiting professor.

It is possible that based upon the reception of Kikutake's projects in Otterlo he decided to set the fifth year project as a design for a residential community of 25, inhabitants to be constructed on the water of Boston Bay. He considered the idea of "major" and "minor" city structure and how this could grow in cycles like the trunk and leaves of a tree. One of the seven projects produced by the students was a perfect example of his vision.

The project consisted of two primary residential structures each of which was triangular in section. Lateral movement was provided by motorways and monorail, whilst vertical movement from the parking areas was via elevators. There were open spaces within for community centres and every third level there were walkways along which were rows of family houses. As Tange had just accepted an invitation to be a visiting professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology he recommended his junior colleague Takashi Asada to replace him in the organisation of the conference programmes.

The young Asada invited two friends to help him: the architectural critic and former editor of the magazine Shinkenchiku, Noboru Kawazoe , and Kisho Kurokawa who was one of Tange's students. In turn these two men scouted for more talented designers to help, including: the architects Masato Otaka and Kiyonori Kikutake and the designers Kenji Ekuan and Kiyoshi Awazu. By day Asada canvassed politicians, business leaders and journalists for ideas, by night he met with his young friends to cultivate ideas.

He often invited people from other professions to give talks and one of these was the atomic physicist, Mitsuo Taketani. Taketani was a scholar who was also interested in Marxist theory and he brought this along with his scientific theories to the group. Taketani's three stage methodology for scientific research influenced Kikutake's own three stage theory: ka the general system , kata the abstract image and katachi the solution as built , which he used to summarise his own design process from a broad vision to a concrete architectural form.

The group also searched for architectural solutions to Japan's phenomenal urban expansion brought about by its economic growth and how this could be reconciled with its shortage of usable land. They were inspired by examples of circular growth and renewal found in traditional Japanese architecture like the Ise Shrine and Katsura Detached Palace.

The conference ran from 11—16 May and had guests, 84 of whom were international, including the architects Louis Kahn , Ralph Erskine , B. After his 13 May lecture, Louis Kahn was invited to Kikutake's Sky House and had a long conversation with a number of Japanese architects including the Metabolists. He answered questions until after midnight with Maki acting as translator. Kahn spoke of his universal approach to design and used his own Richards Medical Research Laboratories as an example of how new design solutions can be reached with new thinking about space and movement.

A number of the Metabolists were inspired by this. Whilst discussing the organic nature of Kikutake's theoretical Marine City project, Kawazoe used the Japanese word shinchintaisha as being symbolic of the essential exchange of materials and energy between organisms and the exterior world literally metabolism in a biological sense.

The Japanese meaning of the word has a feeling of replacement of the old with the new and the group further interpreted this to be equivalent to the continuous renewal and organic growth of the city.

The translation he found was the word Metabolism. Metabolism is the name of the group, in which each member proposes further designs of our coming world through his concrete designs and illustrations. We regard human society as a vital process - a continuous development from atom to nebula.

The reason why we use such a biological word, metabolism, is that we believe design and technology should be a denotation of human society. We are not going to accept metabolism as a natural process, but try to encourage active metabolic development of our society through our proposals. The publication included projects by each member but a third of the document was dedicated to work by Kikutake [25] who contributed essays and illustrations on the "Ocean City".

Some of the projects included in the manifesto were subsequently displayed at the Museum of Modern Art's exhibition entitled Visionary Architecture and exposed the Japanese architects' work to a much wider international audience.

Unlike the more rigid membership structure of Team 10, the Metabolist's saw their movement as having organic form with the members being free to come and go, although the group had cohesion they saw themselves as individuals and their architecture reflected this.

Kikutake's Ocean City is the first essay in the pamphlet. It covered his two previously published projects "Tower-shaped City" and "Marine City" and included a new project "Ocean City" that was a combination of the first two. The first two of these projects introduced the Metabolist's idea of "artificial land" as well as "major" and "minor" structure.

In responding to the scarcity of land in large and expanding cities he proposed creating "artificial land" that would be composed of concrete slabs, oceans or walls onto which capsules could be plugged. He said that the creation of this "artificial land" would allow people to use other land in a more natural way.

For Marine City, Kikutake proposed a city that would float free in the ocean and would be free of ties to a particular nation and therefore free from the threat of war. The artificial ground of the city would house agriculture, industry and entertainment and the residential towers would descend into the ocean to a depth of metres.

The city itself was not tied to the land and was free to float across the ocean and grow organically like an organism. Once it became too aged for habitation it would sink itself.

It consisted of two rings that were tangent to one another, with housing on the inner ring and production on the outer one. Administrative buildings were found at the tangent point. The population would have been rigidly controlled at an upper limit of , Kikutake envisaged that the city would expand by multiplying itself as though it was undergoing cell division. This enforced the Metabolist idea that the expansion of cities could be a biological process.

The Wall City considered the problem of the ever-expanding distance between the home and the workplace. He proposed a wall-shaped city that could extend indefinitely. Dwellings would be on one side of the wall and workplaces on the other. The wall itself would contain transportation and services. It consisted of a grid-like city supported on 4 metre stilts above the ground. These houses were shrouded in a mushroom-like cap that was neither wall nor roof that enclosed a tea room and a living space.

Maki and Otaka's essay on Group Form placed less emphasis on the megastructures of some of the other Metabolists and focused instead on a more flexible form of urban planning [38] that could better accommodate rapid and unpredictable requirements of the city.

Otaka had first thought about the relationship between infrastructure and architecture in his graduation thesis and he continued to explore ideas about "artificial ground" during his work at Maekawa's office. Likewise, during his travels abroad, Maki was impressed with the grouping and forms of vernacular buildings.

Kawazoe contributed a brief essay entitled I want to be a sea-shell, I want to be a mold, I want to be a spirit. The essay reflected Japan's cultural anguish after the Second World War and proposed the unity of man and nature.

The perimeter of each of the modules was organised into three levels of looping highways, as Tange was adamant that an efficient communication system would be the key to modern living. Residential areas were to be accommodated on parallel streets that ran perpendicular to the main linear axis and people would build their own houses within giant A-frame structures. Originally it was intended to publish the plan at the World Design Conference hence its "" title but it was delayed because the same members were working on the Conference organisation.

Kikutake's plan incorporated three elements both on the land and the sea and included a looped highway that connected all the prefectures around the bay. Unlike Tange however its simple presentation graphics put many people off. Kurokawa's plan consisted of helix-shaped megastructures floating inside cells that extended out across the bay.

Although the scheme's more convincing graphics were presented as part of a film the project was not built. Both projects used land that had been reclaimed from the sea since the s in combination with floating structures.

As well as two news firms and a printing company the building needed to incorporate a cafeteria and shops at ground floor level to interface with the adjoining city.

It also needed to be flexible in its design to allow future expansion. Tange organised the spaces of the three firms by function to allow them to share common facilities.

He stacked these functions vertically according to need, for example, the printing plant is on the ground floor to facilitate access to the street for loading and transportation. He then took all the service functions including elevators, toilets and pipes and grouped them into 16 reinforced concrete cylindrical towers, each with an equal 5 metre diameter.

These he placed on a grid into which he inserted the functional group facilities and offices. These inserted elements were conceived of as containers that were independent of the structure and could be arranged flexibly as required. This conceived flexibility distinguished Tange's design from other architects' designs with open floor offices and service cores — such as Kahn's Richards Medical Research Laboratories.

Tange deliberately finished the cylindrical towers at different heights to imply that there was room for vertical expansion. Although the building was expanded in as Tange had originally envisioned, [48] it did not act as a catalyst for the expansion of the building into a megastructure across the rest of the city. The building was criticised for forsaking the human use of the building in preference to the structure and adaptability.

This time using only a single core Tange arranged the offices as cantilevered steel and glass boxes. The cantilever is emphasised by punctuating the three storey blocks with a single storey glazed balcony.

The capsules are constructed of light steel welded trusses covered with steel sheeting mounted onto the reinforced concrete cores. The capsules are 2. The units originally contained a bed, storage cabinets, a bathroom, a colour television set, clock, refrigerator and air conditioner, although optional extras such as a stereo were available.


Metabolism (architecture)


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Kenzo Tange and the Metabolist Movement: Urban Utopias of Modern Japan






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