Metabolism, the City of the Future

Mori Art Museum in Tokyo will hold world's first exhibition on Metabolism, a representative movement in modern Japanese architecture history.

The Mori Art Museum will present Metabolism, the City of the Future from 23 July to 6 November 2011. Metabolism, which sprang up in the 1960s, remains the most widely known modern architecture movement to have emerged from Japan. As its biological name suggests, the movement contends that buildings and cities should be designed in the same organic way that life grows and changes by repeating metabolism.

At the World Design Conference of 1960, the Metabolism group—formed by architecture critic Kawazoe Noboru, architects Otaka Masato, Maki Fumihiko, Kikutake Kiyonori and Kurokawa Kisho, designers Awazu Kiyoshi, Ekuan Kenji, and others who had come under the influence of the architect Tange Kenzo—presented a manifesto entitled Metabolism 1960: Proposals for a New Urbanism. The movement went on to involve numerous other architects such as Isozaki Arata and Otani Sachio throughout Japan's period of rapid economic growth, and ultimately came to define this key moment in the country's modern architectural history. Fifty years on, there is now increasing momentum for a reappraisal of the Metabolists' grand visions of future cities, as an important pioneering example in assessing today 's cities.
Tange Kenzo, <i>Hiroshima Peace Center</i>, Hiroshima, Japan, 1955. Photo: Ishimoto Yasuhiro.
Tange Kenzo, Hiroshima Peace Center, Hiroshima, Japan, 1955. Photo: Ishimoto Yasuhiro.
This is the first exhibition in the world to provide such a comprehensive overview of the Metabolism. It highlights not only leading architectural and urban projects but also Japan's postwar reconstruction urban planning which led up to Metabolism, particularly from Hiroshima Peace Park to art and design from that period are also introduced, as well as Osaka Expo '70—which in many ways was the culmination of the movement—and later international projects. The exhibition also represents an important opportunity to collect and archive valuable architectural documents and records, as many others have been lost in recent years. The 500 or more exhibits from about 100 projects include never-before-seen models, sketches, and plans owned by architects and other related people, archive film footage rarely viewed by the public, and 3D computer graphic images of future cities produced for this exhibition.
Kikutake Kiyonori, <i>Marine City</i>, 1963.
Kikutake Kiyonori, Marine City, 1963.
The exhibition has been structured around five areas. In the first section, called Birth of Metabolism, Metabolism projects show the strong influence of Tange Kenzo who incorporated his visions of the city into individual building works. This section traces the changes in Japan's wartime and postwar urban design, focusing on Tange's Hiroshima projects' as the beginning of postwar architectural and urban design, and on the visions of future cities given in the manifesto Metabolism 1960: Proposals for a New Urbanism. I Era of Metabolism introduces activities that were vigorously developed, from urban concepts to public buildings and housing, including: A Plan for Tokyo 1960 by Tange Kenzo, Kurokawa Kisho, Isozaki Arata and others, known for its revolutionary ideas for the design of a new Tokyo on Tokyo Bay; the Nakagin Capsule Tower Building by Kurokawa, which proposed a futuristic lifestyle of living in capsules that came to epitomize the Metabolism; and the South Pole Showa Base by Asada Takashi and others, the origin of prefab housing and an attempt to industrialize architecture and develop self-building.
Kurokawa Kisyo, <i>Nakagin Capsule Tower Building</i>, Tokyo, 1972. Photo: Ohashi Tomio.
Kurokawa Kisyo, Nakagin Capsule Tower Building, Tokyo, 1972. Photo: Ohashi Tomio.
Osaka Expo '70 was a turning point in Japan' s transition to a consumer and information society. Prior to that, interaction was stimulated among different fields of art, centred on the concept of 'environment'. A prime example is found in Yamaguchi Katsuhiro's Work, showcased at From Space to Environment in 1966 and introduced in this section, along with Kiyoshi Awazu's graphic designs and Expo '70, from the perspective of cities and buildings. Expo '70 brought into focus the entire wisdom of the Metabolism and is still thought of today as the epitome of futuristic cities.

In the section Global Metabolism is developed the period where Kenzo Tange and architects under his influence extended their appeal overseas after Expo '70. Although most of their plans remain uncompleted, there is considered to be a need to review and reappraise them as the precursors to the current rapid development of Asian cities. This section showcases large, city scale projects, such as Tange's s Reconstruction Plan for Skopje City Center following the earthquake in the Macedonian capital, Kikutake Kiyonori's Marine City 1971—Hawaii and Maki Fumihiko's Republic Polytechnic, the National University of Singapore ' s Campus Plans. The Metabolism Lounge is a place for contemplating different aspects of future urban design through lectures, exhibitions of new research data and urban projects from universities, urban studies research institutions and companies, books on Metabolism and urban design, archive films of past lectures, and more.
Kikutake Kiyonori,<i>ECO POLIS>/i>, early 1990s.
Kikutake Kiyonori,ECO POLIS>/i>, early 1990s.
Metabolism, the City of the Future
Mori Art Museum, 53F Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo Japan
Advisory Committee: Isozaki Arata, Ekuan Kenji, Otaka Masato, Kawazoe Noboru, Kikutake Kiyonori, Fujimori Terunobu, Maki Fumihiko, Yatsuka Hajime and others
Curated by: Mori Art Museum, Metabolism Association, (Yatsuka Hajime, Asada Mari, Imamura Souhei, Ohta Kayoko, Kaneko Yusuke, Kikuchi Makoto, Seng Kuan, Toda Jo, Toyokawa Saikaku, Nango Yoshikazu, Hino Naohiko, Matsushita Kiwa, Mizutani Akihiro, Yamana Yoshiyuki)
Tange Kenzo, <i>A Plan for Tokyo 1960</i>1961. Photo: Kawasumi Akio. Photo courtesy: TANGE ASSOCIATES.
Tange Kenzo, A Plan for Tokyo 19601961. Photo: Kawasumi Akio. Photo courtesy: TANGE ASSOCIATES.

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