The Japanese modern architecture movement known as’Metabolism’ began in the late 1950’s. However, the movements most influentialwork came to fruition throughout the 1960’s and into the early 70’s. After thearchitecture group known as CIAM founded by Le Corbusier and other Westernarchitects disbanded in 1959, the metabolist movement filled the void left inmodern Japanese architecture. The large scale damage caused by the second worldwar presented a blank canvas for the future of its urban design and publicspaces. The metabolist architects believed cities should not consist of staticobjects, but be ever evolving and organic.
Architecture with a ‘metabolism’.Any structures built after the war that took into the consideration populationgrowth, should have a limited lifespan and should have a replaceable design. Inorder to meet these requirements metabolist architecture is built a centralstructure which acts like a spine. Cell like pods are easily attached to thespinal structure. When the lifespan is over each pod can be replaced. Metabolist plans such as space cities and suspended urbanlandscape pods where so advanced they were never fully achieved. A theoreticalplan for a floating city in the Tokyo Bay was presented to the World DesignConference in 1960 by Kenzo Kurokawa. Helix City created by Kisho Kurokawa in1961 was his metabolic solution for urbanism.
Meanwhile in the united states theoreticalarchitects where also being exhibited. Anne Tyng presented her City towerdesign and Friedrich St. Florian his 300 story vertical city. The 1960 WordDesign Conference in Tokyo was a chance for young Japanese architects tochallenge the traditional European ideas about urbanism. Theideas and philosophies of Fumihiko Maki, Masato Otaka, Kiyonari Kikutake, andKisho Kurokawa were consolidated in a document called ‘Metabolism 1960’.
Manyof these architects were taught by Kenzo Tange at Tokyo university. Some peoplebelieve that work taught on Kenzo Tange course was influenced by Americanarchitect Louis Khan. The stacked modular towers designed for the Richardsmedical centre by Kahn firm reassembled the ideals of metabolism. Thispreviously unseen use of space became a precedent.
Anne Tyng, was a partner atKahn firm and influenced his work. Habitat ’67 in Montreal, Canada was designedby Moshe Safdie who was an apprentice of Louis Khan. Some believe that thedesign of Johnson Wax Research tower by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1950, was theinitial influence for these architects. Ashort book called “The proposal for a New Urbanism” was written collectively byKenzo Tange, Masato Otaka, Fumihiko Maki, Noboru Kawazoe, Kisho Kurokawa,kiyoshi Awazu and Kiyonori Kikutake. The book was released at the World DesignConference in 1960. The name Mega-structures was given to many of the projectsby these architects. The plans they designed where often large or for entirecities.
The belief was that cities are alive and change with time, like a livingorganism. Japan’s population was growing rapidly, so buildings designed bythese architects where often for a large number of people and could be changedwhen its purpose expired. Possibly the most notable example is Nakagin CapsuleTower by Kisho Kurokawa in 1972. Each rectangular module was an apartment witha solitary round window. These Capsules versatile and interchangeable, each onecan be moved to a new position or replaced.
When advances are made the oldermodules can be replaced with a newer model. However, the current occupants planto demolish Kurokawa’s building in order to construct something larger. 1 The Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne, morecommonly known as CIAM, was founded in Switzerland in 1928.
The aim of this architecturalassociation was to introduce modernism on a global scale. Based upon urbanpatterns in the United States in 1930s, CIAM encouraged the idea that urbandevelopment should be guided by four functional categories: work,transportation, dwelling and recreation. 2 By the mid- 1930’s CIAM had becomea pseudo-political party. Le Corbusier and other architects within the grouphad the goal of promoting modern architecture on a global scale. In the post-war period Le Corbusier and other members of CIAM began to design architecture inthe City of Chandigarh, India. Their modernist goals first gained tractionthough this architecture.