In the early 1960s, Japan was on the cusp of transformation. Post-war recovery gained critical momentum and technologies advanced. Cities were growing rapidly, and a new need for mass housing and infrastructure sparked challenges and opportunities in the urban context. The rapidity and the abrupt transformation of the urban environment which was fuelled by an enormous economic growth and unprecedent level of productivity which saw a frantic process of urbanization and immigration become catalyst for new bold ideas and unconventional and innovative architecture and urban planning projects, conceived as solutions to some of the most urgent problems of the urban dwellers.
Metabolism is the name of a group of young Japanese designers and architects who proposed a new form of urbanism built on visionary urban projects and experimental avant-garde design as creative response to this new landscape. The occasion to present their ideas came at the 1960 World Design Conference in Tokyo, when they presented a manifesto titled METABOLISM/1960–Proposals for a New Urbanism, championing then-innovative concepts such as capsule architecture and prefabrication, and embracing bold forms characterised by sophisticated architectural elements and massive urban structures that continue to fascinate designers today.
Metabolism was active in Japan from 1958 to the 1970s, and its techno-utopias were rooted in the fundamental notions of cycles of use, nomadism, modularity, compact urbanism, expandability and replaceability, and were inspired by the biological metaphor of organic growth of living organisms as well as the cultural influence of East Asian philosophical thoughts and religious traditions. Key figures associated with the Metabolist movement include renowned architects Kenzo Tange, Kisho Kurokawa, Fumihiko Maki, Arata Isozaki, Masato Otaka and Kiyonori Kikutake, as well as critic Noburu Kawazoe, graphic designer Kiyoshi Awazu and industrial designer Ekuan Kenji. Surviving examples of Metabolist architecture include Yamanashi Press building and the Nakagin Capsule Tower in Tokyo, and the site for the 1970 World Exposition in Osaka.
Recent years have witnessed a revamp and growing interest in the model of cities and the architectural ideas the Metabolists have first proposed 60 years ago, especially in the Asia Pacific Region. In the years what attracted most was the fact that Metabolist projects have devoted much attention to the themes of compact cities, high-density architectures in rapid growing cities, the exploration of new form of urbanization in alternative habitats like the sea (marine cities and large floating urban platforms), as well as the predilection for a technological-driven design approach built around flexible architectural spaces and changeable urban forms reactive to any radical and sudden (human-made or natural) transformation of the surrounding environment.
Focussing on 3 key themes of research (Metabolism’s lessons in a time of Climate Change; Metabolism and the Future of the City; Metabolism and the need for Eco-Urban Design and Regeneration), the symposium, which is supported by the Japan Foundation - Sydney, gathers high calibre scholars and academics who will introduces the work of the Metabolists with the intent to examines the merits and limitations of the urban architectural projects and planning schemes they developed in response to Japan’s rapid post-war urbanisation. Reflecting on the lessons and legacy of the Metabolist oeuvre, sixty years on from the manifesto’s release, the symposium will explore several concepts and schemes proposed by Metabolism and discuss their current relevance in the design and development of the 21st Century city, highlighting how the visions and ideas of this dynamic but fleeting movement might be reinterpreted and adapted to address humanity urban futures.
Monday 22 February 2021 (webinar - Sydney Time)
Venue: none (event on-line/webinar)
|09.30am - 09:45am||Introduction and welcome|
|09:45am - 11.35am||1st Session (25 minutes x 5 presenters)|
|11.35am -12.30 pm||Roundtable|
|12.30pm - 02.00pm||Break|
|02.00pm - 04.05pm||2nd Session (25 minutes x 5 presenters)|
|04.05pm - 05.00pm||Roundtable & wrap up|
Tuesday 23 February 2021 (hybrid live & webinar - Sydney Time)
Venue: Gallery on the GF of Red Centre UNSW Sydney, Kensington Campus
|09:15am - 09.30am||Introduction and welcome|
|09.30am - 11.10am||1st Session (25 minutes x 4 presenters)|
|11.10am - 12.00pm||Roundtable & wrap up|
Participants will engage in talks focussed on Metabolism lessons and highlight their relation with the duality destruction/reconstruction of the natural and urban landscape, the planning and design of communities and mass housing suitable for the contemporary mega-city, and the influence of eco-urban design approaches and strategies to face the challenges posed by recent threats to the urban society such as the global warming and climate change.
The symposium will deliver 3 main goals:
Audience can watch the live stream event only from YouTube and not Teams.
Monday 22 - webinar
Tuesday 23 - hybrid live & webinar
Register for both online and on site participation.
UNSW Sydney - Built Environment / History and Theory of the Built Environment Research Cluster
The Japan Foundation, Sydney
The event is organized as both live and remote on-line event (webinar).
This symposium is funded by the Japan Foundation Program for Intellectual Exchange Conferences Grant 2020 (Ref. no. 10126897)
Project Director: Dr. Raffaele Pernice, UNSW Sydney
Dr. Raffaele Pernice, UNSW Sydney